Sunday, July 05, 2015

UK: ‘Sickened’ eyewitness captures the moment police ‘punched drugs suspect three times as he lay restrained on the ground’

This shocking video shows the moment a police officer appeared to punch a drugs suspect three times as he lay restrained on the ground. The footage taken by a 'sickened' witness shows a plain clothes police officer pinning the man down as a second uniformed policeman seemingly lands three sharp punches on him.

But the police insisted the video showed 'just a tiny part of our response to the arrest', which involved 'approved restraint techniques'.

The concerned member of the public recorded the incident on June 21 after spotting two police officers chasing a suspect.

Two witnesses say the man was running away from the constables when a police car pulled up and an officer jumped out and tackled the man, bringing him to the ground.

The video, taken on a mobile phone, then appears to show an officer punching the man, who is a suspected drug dealer.

The witness said: 'I was truly sickened by what I saw and cannot believe that this is the way that members of our police behave.

'I do not have a grievance with the police and have always respected the work that they do. I do not know the suspect and do not know why he was being arrested. But he should not have been hit whilst he was down.'

Strict rules set out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary state that officers may only use 'reasonable force' as a last resort.

Force can only be used to apprehend a suspect, to prevent a crime, in self-defence or to protect property. If officers are deemed to have used excessive force, they can face a disciplinary investigation by their force or even criminal charges.

In a statement, the force said: 'At around Midday on Sunday 21 June officers spotted a man they suspected to be dealing drugs in Cecil Road, Erdington.

'The 25-year-old man fled as officers approached and ran into moving traffic. Another passing officer then tackled him to the floor and he was detained in Gravelly Hill North. 'The Sutton Coldfield man resisted arrest and attempted to swallow a package of suspected Class B drugs that he was found to be carrying.

'The suspect also refused to be handcuffed and approved restraint techniques were then used by officers to arrest him - he was taken into custody and released on police bail pending further investigation.

'The short video shows just a tiny part of our response to the arrest which is part of our crackdown on drug use and supply in Birmingham.

'Our officers receive a huge amount of training for these kinds of situations and are shown how to target pressure points in order to bring suspects who are resisting arrest under control. 'To date no complaint has been received by the force regarding the arrest.'

Asked if the video would spark an investigation, the force spokesman added: 'There's no investigation as we haven't received a complaint and our Professional Standards Department has no misconduct concerns.'

Original report here

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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Demonstrations over death of Caribbean tourist at the hands of Dutch police

Dutch police arrested around 200 people overnight into Friday morning when riots broke out following the death of a man in police custody. The arrests for ignoring a ban on public assembly came on the fourth night of riots in a predominantly immigrant neighbourhood in The Hague.

Prosecutors investigating Sunday's death of Mitch Henriquez, a 42-year-old from the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, say he likely died of oxygen starvation caused during his arrest at a music festival Saturday night.

The five officers involved have been suspended from active duty and are being investigated as suspects in his death.

Protesters have gathered each night in the Schilderswijk neighborhood, carrying banners protesting what they perceive as racism and the excessive use of force by police.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that more than 100 people chanted anti-Semitic slogans during the riot in the area where a handful of Jews live.

Henriquez's family has said in comments reported in Dutch media that they do not believe he was a victim of racist policing.

They have issued a call on social media for a silent march in his memory on Saturday and urged people to walk in peace from a railway station in The Hague to the park where he was arrested.

The Dutch National Ombudsman's office, which investigates disputes between citizens and government agencies, last year published a report following allegations of discriminatory policing in Schilderswijk, home to 60,000 people of 125 different nationalities.

The report, which called policing there 'a mix of peacekeeping and crime fighting', found 'no indication of structural abuses in the behavior of police' in Schilderswijk but said 'police and citizens need to work to prevent escalation'.

Dutch Justice Minister Ard van der Steur told reporters yesterday that residents say troublemakers are pouring into the neighborhood to riot. He said the disorder has to stop.

'Of course, there is concern and anger at what possibly happened last weekend,' Van der Steur said. 'That is understandable. But this reaction is unacceptable.'

The situation that has drawn comparisons with the angry protests that erupted in the US following deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers.

Sinan Cankaya, an anthropologist who has studied racial profiling by the Amsterdam police, said the Netherlands' long-standing image as a tolerant, multicultural society masks racism in areas like the job market and in night life.

A Dutch man of Turkish descent, Cankaya said he was regularly barred from nightclubs that his white friends were allowed into.

'The idea of Dutch tolerance is part of the problem, because it blocks and hinders us Dutch from being self-critical and just facing the issue of racism in the Netherlands,' he said.

Original report here

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Friday, July 03, 2015

'A staggering level of incompetence': Judge blasts detective after re-trial of burglary suspects collapses leaving the taxpayer with a £100,000 bill

The bungling dickless Tracy concerned

A judge has blasted a detective for 'staggering incompetence' after the re-trial of three burglary suspects collapsed leaving the taxpayer with a £100,000 bill.

Detective Constable Sarah Northcott felt the wrath of Judge Simon Carr after he branded the case against the trio as one of the worst he had ever seen.

Stuart Bushell, 54, Thomas Lane, 25, and his brother Samuel, 22, were standing trial at Truro Crown Court accused of burgling the Bay Hotel in Port Isaac, Cornwall, one of the locations used in the popular ITV television series Doc Martin.

Their first trial was aborted a year ago after eight days when the jury failed to reach a verdict.

But today their retrial collapsed after four days with the judge blasting DC Northcott over a lack of photographic evidence, badly filled-out search records and incorrectly labelled exhibits.

He also said he felt the re-trial was only staged to 'cover-up the incompetence of the first hearing.'

The trio were alleged to have stolen £14,800 in cash and valuables from the hotel owners' private accommodation within the establishment.

Judge Carr said: 'I assume someone has reviewed the public interest (in continuing to prosecute the case). 'It has the feel of a (case) being prosecuted in order to cover up the incompetence of the first hearing.

'This was one of the worst-handled investigations I have ever seen. The officer seems to have completely misunderstood her role. 'She decided from the beginning she had solved the case and there was no need for further investigation.'

He said the mishandling of the case and the collapse of the trial had cost 'somewhere in the region of £100,000'.

Piers Norsworthy, defending Mr Bushell, argued the police investigation was 'fundamentally flawed'. He said: 'We are not saying there is any evidence of malice or corruption, but we are getting very close to the level of negligence where questions could be asked about whether this officer was competent to do this investigation.'

Mr Norsworthy gave examples of problems, including the lack of photographs from the search of Mr Bushell's home and DC Northcott's failure to complete search records accurately and include information on the unused schedule of material.

He also highlighted the detective's decision to return evidence to the alleged victim of the burglary Paul Williams.

In October the court heard the prosecution intended to have a retrial. Jonathan Barnes, for the prosecution, said DC Northcott would make a statement accepting errors identified by Detective Inspector William McWhirther's review of the case.

After the close of the prosecution case in the retrial, the counsel for the three defendants argued for a stay of the indictment on the grounds that there had been an abuse of process and was no case to answer.

He said Thomas Lane was only arrested because Mr Bushell told the officer he had spent the day with him. She failed to investigate the two defendant's explanations for cash being found at their premises.

In relation to Mr Bushell and Samuel Lane, of Coventry, Judge Carr stayed the indictment. In relation to Thomas Lane, he entered not guilty verdicts on the ground that there was nothing to link the money found in his house to the burglary.

Judge Carr said that despite his strong criticism there was no evidence DC Northcott had acted with malice.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said a review of the matter by its professional standards department found no misconduct or dishonesty in DC Northcott.

He said: 'Locally, advice and guidance has been given to the detective around management and labelling of exhibits, which was unacceptable during this case.

'This has always been a matter of processes being reviewed, not a challenge to the integrity of any police officer.'

After the case, one of the cleared suspects, Mr Bushell said: 'I feel like it was a personal witch hunt against myself.'

Since being charged with burglary Mr Bushell said he was forced to leave Port Isaac and sell the lease on the tearoom he ran there because of stigma linked to the case.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: 'The CPS must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute. 'In this case, the reviewing lawyer felt both criteria were met and accordingly authorised the police to charge the defendants.

'Following the first trial, it was still felt these criteria were met and so a retrial was sought.'

Original report here

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Scottish cops caught dozing in patrol car in their uniforms

Police have launched an investigation after two officers were caught sleeping in their patrol car while in full uniform. The picture, taken in the Maryhill area of Glasgow, appears to show one of the policemen with his head resting against the window dozing.

The other officer can be seen with his hands clasped in his lap and leaning back against his seat with his eyes closed.

The images were snapped by a passing labourer yesterday morning at 7am and he says he was able to walk right up to the car without and take the pictures without disturbing the two men.

The man, who did not want to be named, told the Daily Record: 'At first, I was quite shocked as they were parked up in a street, in their police car and their badges were visible through the windows.

'I walked up to the car and took three pictures of them sleeping soundly and they were sleeping so soundly they didn’t even stir.

'Police officers are usually fast enough to act when it suits them so I really don’t think they should be allowed to sleep whilst on duty.'

Police Scotland confirmed they are now investigating the matter after it they were given the pictures. Superintendent Andy Bates, Local Policing Commander for Greater Glasgow said: 'Police Scotland will robustly investigate the circumstances surrounding the information given to us. 'As this is now an internal investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.'

It comes after a study earlier this year said that police should be allowed to nap while on duty – and given special 'sleep pods' where they can nod off. Work time 'sleep breaks' could help reduce fatigue and promote better concentration, according to researchers.

Although there is no 'official' ban on officers snoozing on duty, it is widely discouraged among the workforce.

Original report here

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

L.A. County D.A. to unveil details on wrongful-conviction unit

L.A. County will join a small but growing number of prosecution offices to create a wrongful-conviction unit

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey will unveil details Monday about the creation of a unit dedicated to reviewing the integrity of convictions for people behind bars for serious or violent crimes.

In putting together such a team of veteran prosecutors, the county D.A.'s office is joining a small but growing number of prosecutorial agencies around the country devoting resources to identifying innocent prisoners.

The Times reported in April that Lacey had asked the Board of Supervisors for nearly $1 million to fund the new team, which would include three prosecutors, a senior investigator and a paralegal.

In seeking the funds, Lacey’s office said it wanted to keep up with an increasing number of wrongful-conviction claims that have followed the advent of similar units around the country, a growing number of innocence projects and heightened publicity surrounding innocence claims, a county spokesman said.

Innocence project groups and others said the move would send a dramatic statement that the office is serious about reversing injustices and could spur the creation of similar units in smaller counties in California.

Although such units are still rare, Los Angeles would join more than 15 district attorney offices nationwide that have created such teams, including Dallas County, Brooklyn and Manhattan, N.Y., as well as the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C. In California, district attorneys in Santa Clara, Ventura and Yolo counties have established similar units.

The proposal comes after a string of high-profile wrongful convictions.

Earlier this year, the city of Los Angeles agreed to pay more than $8 million to Obie Anthony, who was declared factually innocent after spending 17 years behind bars for a killing outside a brothel in South Los Angeles.

In October, a judge threw out the murder conviction of Susan Mellen, saying that she was wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years based on the word of a habitual liar and adding that "the criminal justice system failed."

In 2013, another judge threw out Kash Delano Register’s conviction in the 1979 slaying of an elderly man in West Los Angeles.

All three cases were brought to court by innocence projects. In Mellen’s case, the district attorney’s office agreed to her release after its habeas corpus litigation team, which often opposes legal requests to throw out convictions, conducted an investigation.

Original report here

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Innocent man who spent 30 years on death row for a murder he didn't commit dies of cancer after just one year of freedom

Father-of-four Glenn Ford was exonerated in March 2014 of robbing and killing a watchmaker in Shreveport in a 1983 murder which he spent over 30 years behind bars for. He was released from prison after the state said it uncovered evidence proving he wasn't at the crime scene.

In a release his supporters on Crowd Rise wrote: 'At 2:11 this morning, Monday June 29th 2015, Glenn slipped away very quietly and peacefully. 'He was held and surrounded by people who cared about him, and was listening to a song he loved.

Alison McCrary, a civil rights attorney who volunteered at Resurrection After Exoneration, told NBC News that Ford hadn't been diagnosed at Angola, the state prison where he was incarcerated, with the various cancers that killed him, including lung, brain and bone cancer.

After he left prison, he learned he had Stage 3 lung cancer, which then progressed to Stage 4. His medical costs which amounted to about $2,000 a week were paid by private donations, she said.

Ford hadn't been able to speak for roughly the last week, and he was in 'excruciating pain' when he died, McCrary said. But she added: 'There's also a peacefulness about Glenn. He had no hatred in his heart. He was really looking forward to the afterlife.'

Ford walked free from Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola on March 11, 2014, wearing a jean jacket, sweater and beanie hat and carrying all of his worldly possessions in two tiny boxes.

As he walked out of the prison gates, he said he was sad he had not been around to raise his now-adult sons, but added: 'It feels good; my mind is going in all kind of directions. It feels good.'

Earlier this year, the prosecutor who said he 'was to blame' for putting Ford on death row, A.M. 'Marty' Stroud III, apologized for the conviction and met with Ford.

Ford said he refused to get angry over his situation. 'I'm upset, yes, but it's not my driving force,' Ford said. He added: '[My driving force] is to get well as I possibly can. I can't do that being mad at Marty Stroud.'

'I want you to know that I am very sorry,' Stroud said during the somber meeting, which was filmed by abc Nightline. 'It's a stain on me that will be with me until I go to my grave.'

'Right,' Ford responded, without looking up. 'But it still cost me 31 years of my life and then nothing at the end but death because they give me from six to eight months to live.'

Stroud also wrote him a letter in which he admitted that he was to blame for mistakenly putting Ford behind bars for the fatal shooting of a jeweler, despite no murder weapon or witnesses placing him at the scene.

'In 1984, I was 33 years old,' he wrote. 'I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.'

Original report here

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Monday, June 29, 2015

UK: Mother who ate banana at the wheel while she was stuck in gridlocked traffic 'is treated like a criminal' and fined £100

A single mother who was caught eating a banana at the wheel while stuck in gridlocked traffic has moaned she was treated 'like a criminal' after being fined £100.

Elsa Harris, who works as a carer, was pulled over while driving to work along a gridlocked road in Christchurch, Dorset.

She was handed the fine and given the choice of either three penalty points or completing a driver awareness course after admitting taking her hands off the wheel momentarily to peel the banana.

The 45-year-old, who insists her car was stationary in a traffic jam when she the incident occurred, has now blasted the fine as 'ridiculous'. She said: 'I'm a single mum. This is the most expensive banana I've ever had in my life.'

Ms Harris said she had already peeled the banana at home, but there was a small piece of skin still needing removal before she could eat it.

She said: 'An unmarked blue car started flashing at me, drove in front, then slammed its brakes on. It caused so much confusion with all the other cars, nobody knew what was going on.

'When the officer got out he was really angry from the offset, but I was still completely unaware I'd done anything wrong.'

Ms Harris said she's never been in trouble with the police before and has no points on her licence.

She said: 'The officer said I was driving without my hands on the wheel and was a danger to other drivers, but I said that was rubbish.

'I'm a carer and work at vulnerable people's homes serving them lunch. We don't stop for lunch ourselves, we don't get lunch breaks. Normally we have to eat on the hoof.

'He put me in the back of his car like a criminal and told me what a danger I was. 'I couldn't believe it, you get drink-drivers, people texting and eating while they speed along. Surely, me eating a banana in a traffic jam is not that important.'

Eating while driving is not a specific offence. However, anyone distracted behind the wheel or failing to operate their vehicle correctly because they are eating could be committing an offence of driving without due care and attention, or not being in proper control of a vehicle.

The Highway Code states drivers should avoid distractions such as eating, drinking, loud music, trying to read maps, smoking, and arguing with passengers or other road users.

Dorset Polices said it was unable to comment on specific cases still within the judicial process.

A spokesman said: 'If a person has been reported for a driving offence that they do not feel they are guilty of, the matter will be referred to the magistrates' court for a decision. 'Dorset Police is committed to reducing the number of casualties on Dorset's roads.

'Our traffic officers and No Excuse team use enforcement and education to tackle the 'fatal five' - drink and drug driving, excessive and inappropriate speed, not wearing a seatbelt, careless driving and driver distraction.

'We educate people at the roadside and through the driver awareness course to highlight the potential consequences of their actions.'

Original report here

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Australia: Woman runs red light and seriously injures boy -- but acquitted of dangerous driving

The judge seems to be impressed that her use of "Ice" may not have been harmful. Why did that matter? She was a serious and serial lawbreaker who clearly WAS driving dangerously

Mother of three, Leah Lenarczyk, 39, was under the influence of ice and other drugs when she picked up her young children from school on November 8, 2012.

She hit a school boy after running a red light in Adelaide's north and the 12-year-old sustained serious injuries including a collapsed lung and fractured skull.

Lenarczyk was acquitted of dangerous driving and was instead convicted with the subsidiary charge of driving without due care as it was found that the drugs did not have a negative impact on her driving. 'She had none of the indicia or symptoms of someone affected by methylamphetamine,' Judge Beazley said.

The District Court heard that Lenarczyk had an 'appalling' driving record, the Adelaide Advertiser have reported.

As well as a fractured skull and collapsed lung, the school boy suffered a broken leg, abdominal injuries and cuts on his face after he was hit by Lenarczyk at Salisbury Heights.

Judge Beazley took the expert evidence from professor of pharmacology Jason White, and clinical forensic toxicologist Michael Robertson who both confirmed that whether the drugs impacted positively or negatively on Lenarczyk's driving cannot be determined.

Following the accident, she was found to have no alcohol in her blood and was also travelling five kilometres under the speed limit.

Judge Beazley said two police officers were with her for over two hours after the accident and she showed none of the typical symptoms of ice use.

She will be sentenced next month.

Original report here

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Canada: Man nears end of 44-year wait to reverse wrongful conviction

John Salmon doesn’t like to talk about the night more than 40 years ago that led to his incarceration for the death of the woman he loved.

The 75-year-old retiree will gladly discuss his cats (five in all), his views on healthy living (eat fish once a day, take karate classes) and various Casino Rama shows he’s attended (Kellie Pickler, Jeff Foxworthy, many others). But start prying into the tragedy that landed him with a manslaughter conviction in 1971 and Mr. Salmon’ s memories are gone.

On Monday, in a triumph of Mr. Salmon’s quiet determination to clear his name through the Association In Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted (AIDWYC), the courts are expected to expunge the events as well.

"For our children and grandchildren to know, once and for all, that John is the man he is, not the man some people think he is, that’s amazing," says his wife, Margaret Salmon, who does much of the talking for him.

The Crown is recommending acquittal almost 45 years after pursuing his conviction based on flawed forensic evidence stating Mr. Salmon had delivered a "terrific" and fatal blow to Maxine Ditchfield’s head.

In 1971, Mr. Salmon was a piecemeal welder who lived with Ms. Ditchfield and her three kids in a small Woodstock, Ont., home. On Sept. 19, a Saturday night, the family visited some friends.

It was a raucous, booze-sodden night of dancing and quarrelling. When Ms. Ditchfield fell off her stool after 3 a.m., the couple decided it was time to pack up the sleeping children and drive home, according to documents filed in court.

The next morning marked the beginning of a precipitous and mysterious decline in Ms. Ditchfield’s health. She was clumsy, falling in the bathroom. Her body was covered with bruises, the previous night’s alcohol consumption clouding any memory of how they got there.

Mr. Salmon spent the next two days trying to nurse her back to health, but after a series of falls, her condition deteriorated. He called a doctor, who visited the house and determined that Ms. Ditchfield’s bruises, fixed pupils and laboured breathing suggested brain damage from a wicked beating.

The doctor phoned an ambulance and the police. The former took Ms. Ditchfield to the hospital, where she died the next morning; the latter took Mr. Salmon to jail.

There were witnesses, but they were either too inebriated at the time or too young – as in the case of Ms. Ditchfield’s children – for their testimony to be entirely credible. In that reliability vacuum, an autopsy would be relied upon to determine the central question of whether her puzzling demise was the result of an assault or natural causes.

The autopsy noted "bruises and signs of violence" covering Ms. Ditchfield’s body, brain damage, paralysis on the left side of her body and a clot in her right cerebral artery. Notably, the pathologist found none of blood or bone fractures that would characterize a beating brutal enough to cause brain damage.

The cause of death was brain swelling, he concluded, caused by "a blow on the head with a broad, blunt object and delivered at extreme force."

On March 11, 1971, a jury found Mr. Salmon guilty of manslaughter. A judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

"It was not a good feeling," says Mr. Salmon today. "I knew I didn’t do it. I always figured when I went to court I’d eventually be out."

After his release in 1974, he moved to the Orillia area, knowing his checkered past would prevent any happy future in Woodstock.

The conviction remained a life-long hindrance, blocking his path to a government job, a position with the local volunteer fire hall, mortgages.

But then two people came into his life who would change everything. In 1979, there was Margaret, a non-drinking registered nurse. "He told me about the conviction right up front," she says. "I knew then this man wouldn’t hurt a female. Thirty-five years of marriage later, I’m still right about that."

Around 2000, he read about AIDWYC’s fight to overturn the murder conviction of Steven Truscott. He called the lead lawyer, James Lockyer, launching a 15-year bid to overturn his conviction.

About five years before Ms. Ditchfield’s death, pathologists refined a method of determining whether a head injury was caused by the skull striking a stationary object – as would be the case in a fall – or an object striking a stationary skull – as would be the case with a punch or kick. The original pathologist had ignored the technique.

Mr. Lockyer seized on the oversight and commissioned three new pathologist reports. They unanimously agreed Ms. Ditchfield’s injuries stemmed from a contrecoup contusion. In short, her head hit something, not the other way around.

They found mention of the brain clot especially compelling. The contusions likely had resulted, they found, from a series of falls and attempts by medical staff to place her on a ventilator.

The new conclusion: A fall triggered a stroke that eventually killed her.

On June 4, the Crown filed a factum conceding the fresh pathology evidence and is recommending an acquittal in the case, scheduled for Monday morning.

When Mr. Lockyer phoned him with the encouraging news, Mr. Salmon celebrated by hugging all five cats.

Some people are less thrilled. "I don’t doubt the new evidence," says one family member who did not want to be identified. "But he let her lay there for days. Why didn’t he seek help immediately?"

It’s one regret that remains with Mr. Salmon. "She hit her head on the tub. That’s when, looking back, I should’ve taken her to the hospital," he says. "But I didn’t know nothing about concussions or any of that stuff then."

He only blames the seventies-era justice system.

"I felt the whole time I’d beat this," he says. "I never lost faith."

Original report here

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Friday, June 26, 2015

British police panic about rape

Unsubstantiated allegations

Last week, the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service published their review, led by Dame Elish Angiolini QC, into the investigation and prosecution of rapes in London. The review was described by the Met as a ‘victim-centred review of current protocols and procedures’. The report claimed that the volume of rape allegations, having ‘soared’ by 68 per cent between 2005-6 and 2013-14, has left the Met struggling to cope.

However, during this time, the percentage of allegations resulting in a prosecution rose by only 17 per cent. The report warned that, if current trends continued, the number of unpunished rapes would continue to rise. The report went on to recommend that the law enshrine a statutory definition of when someone is too drunk to consent. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, suggested that rape investigations should be assigned the same level of police resources as investigations into domestic terrorism.

The panicked rhetoric of the report and the response to its findings are striking. The report appears to suggest that the authorities are completely failing to deal with an epidemic of rape and sexual violence. The reaction of Hogan-Howe suggests that our intimate relationships present the same level of danger as hidden terrorist networks, and that the authorities should be just as concerned about what goes on in Londoners’ bedrooms as they are about the activities of homegrown terrorist groups.

But even a cursory look at these figures indicates that they say nothing at all about the reality of rape. The report does not, as some newspapers reported, claim that the number of rapes has increased, merely that the number of allegations has increased. This could mean that more and more people are being raped, or it could mean that more and more people are mistakenly thinking they have been raped. The number of allegations tells us nothing at all about the number of rapes that have actually been committed. It says nothing at all about reality.

Nor is it unusual for there to be a significant difference between the number of allegations and the number of cases resulting in a prosecution. In fact, for most criminal offences, the percentage of prosecutions that arise from allegations is far lower than it is for rape. All sorts of issues can prevent an allegation from progressing to a prosecution. In fact, the idea that this figure is too low and should be ‘driven up’ suggests that more people should be prosecuted – that is, arrested, possibly locked up and put before a court – purely to make the numbers look better. In other words, this report takes numbers and percentages, which mean absolutely nothing in and of themselves, and turns them into a picture of a failing justice system.

The report is a significant example of a worrying trend. In today’s discussion around rape, information is routinely presented misleadingly and then used as a means of justifying a further tightening up of the law. The idea that ‘too few’ people are prosecuted comes to be seen as a problem that needs to be fixed by more aggressive prosecuting. As a result, more and more people are encouraged to see rape everywhere, in every corner of their intimate lives.

This makes it hardly surprising that each individual police officer is now dealing with an average of 15 rape allegations at any one time. Rather than the low rate of prosecutions, it is this figure that should give us pause for thought. Perhaps this report does not merely demonstrate that the police are failing – we hardly need another report to tell us that the police routinely screw up rape investigations – but that we are failing, too.

Perhaps the unrelenting increase in the number of allegations of rape shows that we are succumbing to the hysterical official panic around rape. Perhaps we are starting to believe officialdom’s claim that rape is everywhere. Perhaps the truly frightening aspect of this report is not that too few allegations are being prosecuted, but that so many allegations are being made in the first place. If we truly want to ensure that rape is investigated and prosecuted properly, perhaps we should stop seeing rape in those difficult and ambiguous experiences which are part and parcel of a normal, functioning intimate life. It’s time we drove officialdom out of our private lives.

Original report here. (Via POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

South Australian court jails corrupt former police officer for fabricating evidence to hide her cannabis growing operation

A CUNNING, self-interested woman whose "intricate fabric of deceit" hid her cannabis-growing operation while she served as an SA Police officer will spend at least nine months behind bars.

The District Court today rejected former police officer Amanda Boughen’s claims she was coerced and manipulated into the drug trade, and imposed a two-year prison term.

Judge Paul Rice imposed a lower-than-normal non-parole period of nine months because of the effect Boughen’s imprisonment will have on her young son.

However, he ruled not even the best interests of that child outweighed the fictitious identities, faked documents and extreme steps Boughen took to conceal her two drug crops.

"There was an intricate fabric of deceit that surrounded (the crops’) implementation, and you did not reluctantly acquiesce to it," he said. "It was actuated by self-interest, it was calculated and involved a certain amount of cunning. "The integrity of the administration of justice relies in part on the requirement that those who uphold the law also obey it. "In this regard, you failed in a spectacular and serious way."

Boughen, 40, of Mawson Lakes, pleaded guilty to one count of fabricating, altering or concealing evidence.

Between May and September 2006, she used the fake identity of "Nicole Hooper" to rent a property she owned and organise its electricity and utilities connections.

In turn, she received $200 a week rent from her then-boyfriend, Darryl Joseph, who used the Para Hills address to grow cannabis.

At the time of her crimes, Boughen was a serving SA Police officer. She was suspended with full pay when investigations into her conduct began, and has since resigned from SA Police.

Secrecy has surrounded much of Boughen’s case, and other charges of abuse of public office were dropped when she pleaded guilty to the fabrication count.

Boughen initially insisted she was a pawn, and under Joseph’s influence, at the time of her offending. She subsequently, and tearfully, "unreservedly apologised" for her actions, saying she was "humbled, broken" and blamed only herself.

Defence counsel asked Boughen be spared immediate jail, saying her son would have to be placed in the care of Families SA because she lacked family or friends to take him in.

Earlier this month, she told the court she wanted her decade-old case "over and done with".

In sentencing today, Judge Rice outlined the details of both the fabrication and the abuse of public office charges, saying he would take the latter into consideration.

He said that once Boughen and Joseph agreed to cultivate cannabis, she took steps to create "Nicole Hooper" so as to shield herself in the event the crops were discovered.

Judge Rice said Boughen paid herself rent, arranged an electricity account and even purchased a second-hand car, all in Hooper’s name, to further the deception.

He said that when the property’s wheelie bin was stolen, Boughen used Hooper’s name to report the theft, and even communicated with the fictional person by email.

"The email exchange was quite extraordinary," Judge Rice said. "You descended into detail ... ‘Nicole’ asked if she could have a puppy and said she was nervous about moving down because she would be working with a temp staff agency," he said.

"You even noted, in your personal diary, the proposed moving date for ‘Nicole’. "This was all designed to give the appearance that Nicole Hooper existed should the police investigate the cannabis cultivation."

Judge Rice said Boughen’s police experience was essential to the deception — through it, she knew what "markers" to create in government systems as to make Hooper seem real.

He said Boughen’s other crime occurred in 2010 when she tipped Storm Alexander Strang — ringleader of a $40 million drug syndicate — off to an imminent police investigation.

At that time, Strang’s associates were renting one of Boughen’s properties and she suspected they were growing cannabis, as she had previously done herself.

"You did nothing about your suspicions ... self-interest became predominant," he said. "That you, as a police officer, informed someone about an impending police raid says a lot about your integrity."

Judge Rice said personal references hailed Boughen as reliable, loving and honest, while psychological reports spoke of a dysfunctional childhood and co-dependency issues.

He emphasised that nothing, including the future of Boughen’s child, warranted the suspension of her sentence.

Original report here

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jonathan Fleming awarded $6.25 million for 25 year wrongful imprisonment

As in many such cases in the USA, Fleming is black

JONATHAN Fleming left prison with $93 in his pocket after serving 25 years for a crime he did not commit. Today, he got paid. New York City authorities agreed on Tuesday to pay Mr Fleming $6.25 million for his wrongful imprisonment between 1989-2014.

The payout is a long way short of the $162 million he was suing the city for, but his lawyers say it will allow him to build a new life.

Fleming, 52, was convicted of the murder of Darryl Rush in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg despite being on the other side of the country at the time.

Rush was shot and killed on August 15, 1989. Prosecutors successfully argued that the pair had a falling out and a witness identified Fleming as the shooter. That witness would later recant her testimony and tell police she lied to get out of an unrelated arrest.

At his trial, Fleming’s defence team provided family photographs and home videos showing he was at Disney World in Florida at the time of Rush’s murder. It didn’t matter because they had no official proof.

The court was provided with plane tickets and post cards but it was agreed neither proved he was not in New York.

Fleming would spend the next 25 years in a high security prison waiting for somebody to listen to his side of the story. He missed out on his sons’ birthdays and was not there to care for his sick mother.

Then, last year, a receipt from a Florida hotel emerged. Fleming’s defence asked the District Attorney’s office to review the case one more time and showed them the receipt. It was paid five hours before the shooting by one Jonathan Fleming.

The receipt, astonishingly, had been in Mr Fleming’s pocket when he was originally arrested. Police had it in their possession the whole time.

When he was eventually released in April last year, Fleming had nowhere to live and no idea how to use a mobile phone. He was broke. But incredibly, he was not angry. And he never gave up hope.

"I had faith. I said to myself I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I’m going to get out," Fleming told the Guardian during his first visit to Times Square in a quarter of a century.

To help him find his feet again, strangers contributed to a fundraising campaign with an initial $10,000 goal and ended up raising $49,000.

On the fundraising page, Fleming wrote that he was "terrified" and did not know how he was going to survive. But he was so thankful to everyone who had supported him, both emotionally and financially.

"I promise that I will treat this money with the respect that it deserves, and that I will forever be thankful to each and every person that took the time to help me out," he wrote.

Fleming has money now, but he will never get back what was taken from him. And he knows it. "I think about all the things I could have accomplished during that time and I come out to nothing."

His lawyer Anthony Mayol said: "That’s 25 years that have been stolen, that he’ll never get back."

Plenty changed in the years he was locked away but some things stayed the same: his mother was still waiting for him with open arms. "After 25 years, come hug your mother," she said in court.

Fleming’s case is not unique. His wrongful imprisonment is not the longest in US history either.

James Bain spent 35 years in prison for a kidnapping and rape in 1974 that he did not commit. He received just $1.7 million compensation — $50,000 for every year he spent in prison.

Ricky Jackson spent 39 years behind bars for the murder of businessman Harold Franks. He received just $2 million plus 39 years worth of wages.

Original report here

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Australia: Qld cop charged over leaked bash footage

No room for honest cops in Qld.

A Gold Coast police officer has been stood down and charged with misconduct following allegations he leaked footage of colleagues assaulting a handcuffed man three years ago.

The Queensland Police Service said on Friday Rick Flori, a 44-year-old sergeant with 25 years' experience, was the subject of an investigation "concerning allegations he accessed and released confidential information".

The police service said in a statement Flori had been charged with one count of criminal misconduct in public office and issued with a notice to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on July 15.

He has been stood down on full pay but could lose his job over the January 2012 incident.

The leaked video shows Noa Begic, 21, being slammed face first into a concrete floor before being hit by officers using their knees, elbows and fists.

It also shows Mr Begic being punched several times after being put in the back of a police van, and a senior officer throwing a bucket of water on the concrete to wash away the man's blood.

Speaking outside Queensland Police Service headquarters on Friday, Flori thanked his supporters.

"I thank my family," he told reporters. "I've had multiple phone calls and text messages. I'm very grateful and I thank you all."

Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman says the case goes to the heart of the risks whistleblowers take.

Mr O'Gorman called on Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller to take a personal interest in the case.

"Queenslanders will say what sort of a system have we got where a video shows a number of police belting the hell out of a bloke," he told the ABC.

"They don't get charged, but the officer who leaks the video to the media gets charged."

Mr Begic said at the time he was arrested after a night out in Surfers Paradise and was assaulted repeatedly on the drive to the local police station and then later in the basement.

"They were making racist comments about me and then when we ended up in that basement I knew there was more on the way," he said.

Public nuisance charges against Mr Begic were ultimately dropped after then-Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson intervened.

The officers filmed carrying out the assault were subject to an internal police investigation, with two facing disciplinary action. They should have been fired

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Killer admits to brutal rape in Spain for which 'innocent' man has spent 12 years in prison

The killer of Sally Anne Bowman has sensationally admitted brutally raping a woman in Spain for which another man has spent nearly 12 years in prison.

Murderer Mark Dixie, 44, is serving life for murdering the 18-year-old model in South London in 2005.

The former pub chef is suspected of attacking three women on the Costa del Sol where he was living before Sally Anne's murder.

In a dramatic twist in the case last week, Dixie admitted raping one of the women in Spain.

MailOnline revealed last year how Dutchman Romano van der Dussen was wrongly jailed for the Spanish attacks - yet he remains behind bars to this day.

It can also be revealed that new DNA analysis, carried out this week at the Dutch National Forensic Investigation Agency, proves beyond any doubt that Dixie carried out the attack.

Last week, Sally Anne's killer broke down in prison and confessed to raping the Spanish woman in a drink and drug-fuelled rage in the seaside resort of Fuengirola in August 2003.

He made his confession to Romano’s lawyer Rachel Imamkhan when she visited him at HMP Frankland, Co. Durham.

Ms Imamkhan, legal director of PrisonLAW, interviewed Dixie while gathering evidence for Romano’s appeal against his conviction for the three sex attacks.

Dixie’s handwritten, three-page statement will be lodged with the Supreme Court in Madrid as part of Romano’s appeal.

In a statement, PrisonLAW, a law firm specialising in overturning miscarriages of justice, said: 'Mark Dixie confessed that in 2003 he was living in Fuengirola and he remembers committing a rape that Romano van der Dussen has been convicted of.

'He also stated that he is sorry that another person has been in prison for such a long period of time for that rape.

'A new analysis of DNA evidence carried out at the National Forensic Investigations Agency has also confirmed that Mark Dixie carried out that rape.

Ms Imamkhan spent two-and-a-half hours interviewing Dixie and said he was close to tears when he finally confessed to the rape.

She told MailOnline: 'Dixie told me he was high on drink and drugs when he raped the woman and has suffered from blackouts. 'He said he is very sorry that Romano has been in prison for so long for crimes he did not commit. 'He claims he does not remember the other two Spanish attacks.'

Dixie, from Streatham, South London, was living in Fuengirola when the three Spanish women were brutally attacked within two hours of each other in the early hours of August 10 2003.

One woman was punched, thrown to the floor and raped in a terrifying 15-minute ordeal. She spent four days in hospital and suffered severe psychological problems.

Minutes later a second woman was punched in the head, thrown to the floor and sexually assaulted. The attacker fled with her Nokia mobile phone and 120 euros in cash.

The third victim was attacked a few hundred yards away; punched in the head, thrown to the floor, sexually assaulted and beaten.

Romano, now 42, was arrested three weeks later after one of the victims picked him out from photographs in police files.

Detectives had found the attacker’s DNA on the first victim. But astonishingly Romano was charged and prosecuted even though his DNA did not match that found on the victim.

No forensic or physical evidence linked Romano to the crimes but he was jailed for 15-and-a-half years. He remains behind bars and continues to protest his innocence.

During the trial prosecutors argued that all three attacks must have been carried out by the same man.

Shortly after the three women were attacked, Mark Dixie returned to the UK from Spain. In September 2005, he raped and murdered Sally Anne Bowman near her home in Croydon. The teenager was stabbed seven times and raped while she lay dead or dying.

Dixie was arrested the following year by chance after having a fight in a pub – and was linked to Sally Anne’s murder through his DNA.

However, he refused to admit the crimes, forcing Sally Anne’s mother Linda, father Paul and sisters Danielle, Nicole and Michelle, to endure a trial at the Old Bailey. In February 2008, Dixie was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 34 years.

After his arrest, Met Police detectives discovered Dixie had been living in Spain from 2002 to 2003 and sent his DNA to Madrid as a matter of routine.

Spanish police ran it through their national Veritas database and came up with a match for the Fuengirola attack.

In 2011, Romano’s lawyers appealed his convictions but the Spanish court demanded a fresh sample of Dixie’s DNA.

Last December Dixie, who has a string of convictions for sex attacks, gave a new saliva sample at HMP Frankland. Romano’s lawyers sent the results to the National Forensic Investigation Agency and this week Dutch officials confirmed it undisputedly matches that found on the first victim.

When giving the saliva sample, Dixie told police officers he 'may be involved' in the rape in Spain.

But his confession to Ms Imamkhan last week was the first time he has spoken at length about the attack in Spain.

Sally Anne's mother is supporting Romano's appeal against his convictions. Romano has sent her a message thanking her for her support.

Last year, she told MailOnline she is dismayed at the thought that if the Spanish authorities had investigated the case more thoroughly, her daughter might still be alive. 'I am absolutely appalled,' she said. 'An innocent man has spent 11 years of a 16 year sentence in prison for a crime he did not do.

'I feel very strongly that if the Spanish authorities had done their jobs properly, my Sally Anne would be alive.

'He did not assault those three women in Spain - Sally Anne's killer did. He is someone's son and he is locked up for something he didn't do.'

Original report here

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