Thursday, November 27, 2014


Two British cops chased autistic man 'because it was funny' then one beat him in racist attack, court told

Two police officers chased a severely autistic man in a car 'because it was funny' before one beat him in a racist-fuelled attack, a court heard.

Police constables Christopher Pitts and Christopher Thomas were heard laughing as they drove after Faruk Ali, who was walking in the street in Luton.

Pc Thomas described Mr Ali as a 'f***ing P***' before he got out of the car, ran after Mr Ali, who has the mental age of a small child, and beat him, Aylesbury Crown Court heard.

The officer allegedly rugby tackled Mr Ali before throwing him into some bins and punching him in the face, as he desperately tried to get away.

The pair then got back into their car and drove off when they were confronted by concerned family members.

Both are accused of trying to cover up the motivation for the chase, claiming they were concerned for 33-year-old Mr Ali.

They deny misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice. Pc Thomas is also charged with racially aggravated common assault and common assault, which he denies.

David Richards, prosecuting, told the court: 'The case against them, which at first may seem extraordinary, is that they chased a vulnerable man for no proper reason whatsoever, that one of them assaulted him and that he did so in part because of racial hostility.

'Then those two accused deliberately mislead those they knew would hear about their conduct in the form of a complaint.'

He said Mr Ali had the mental age of a three or four-year-old and was incapable of living on his own.

The court heard Mr Ali had definite routines and would go to a Day Centre on a Monday and Tuesday.

'Every Thursday he helped to put the bins out,' said Mr Richards.

Faruk Ali, who has the mental age of a three-year-old was left with cuts and bruises after the attack

'He would get up early and put out the bins for his family and neighbours. He had done so for several years and the bin men would call him "Superman"'.

The jury was played a video recording from the officers' car taken at around 8.20am on February 20. The recording shows Mr Ali walking along the street at which point, it is alleged Thomas, 33, says 'F***ing P***.'

The Vauxhall Vectra is then seen on the video turning round and Mr Ali is seen running down the street.

Both officers are apparently heard laughing before stopping at one end of Whitby Road. Pc Thomas then got out as it was a one-way street and Pc Pitts, 39, drove round the other side.

'There was no reason at all for chasing Mr Ali,' said Mr Richards.

'Why they did so can only be discerned from what passed between them...and it seems to be nothing short of because it was funny, because it was entertaining.'

One of Mr Ali's neighbours described seeing Pc Thomas 'rugby tackle' him before throwing him into some wheelie bins and punching him in the face.

As Mr Ali tried to get into his house, Pc Thomas bundled him into the door and onto the ground inside and punched him again, said Mr Richards.

Mr Ali cried for help, drawing his brother and sister to the scene along with other neighbours.

With Pc Pitts now also at the house, the officers claimed they were concerned for Mr Ali as he was not wearing proper shoes and also said they thought he could be a burglar or have a knife.

'It had gone wrong for them and they were trying to justify their actions,' said Mr Richards.

'There was no grounds whatsoever to suspect Faruk of being a burglar or of carrying a knife.'

Mr Ali's brother told the court how he appeared 'terrified' after the alleged attack.

Dhobir Ali said Pc Thomas was acting 'aggressively and shouting' in the aftermath of the incident. He said he was surprised when the officer told him he thought his brother was a robber when he asked him what he was doing.

He told the court his brother had cuts on his face and chin following the incident. 'He was terrified,' Dhobir told the jury of eight women and four men. 'He looked very scared.'

Mr Ali's brother said he asked the officer for his name but he refused to give it to him.

As the two officers returned to their car there were heated exchanges between them and neighbours, with one accusing them of being racist.

A neighbour said the confrontation continued in inside the hallway of the family home with Mr Ali shouting: 'Uma Uma' - Bengali for mum.

On the floor in the hallway Thomas is alleged to have struck Mr Ali again. He ran to the back of the house, followed by the officer but was stopped by his sister who got in between them.

PC Pitts left the car and also went to the house. When asked what they were doing they said Mr Ali may have been a burglar, or a robber and could have had a knife on him and stabbed someone.

When they left ,the officers were followed into the street by family members who asked for their numbers. PC Pitts was recorded as saying: 'You have got to love it haven't you?'

When one said he was going to complain, PC Thomas is heard to say: 'Make a complaint? Do what you want. What do you want a medal?'

After driving away from the scene, Pc Pitts said to his colleague: 'Welcome to Bury Park.' - a comment referring to the area of Luton they were in.

Pc Thomas was then heard saying: 'F***ing doesn't interact with people, don't f***ing let him out,' which Mr Richards said was about Mr Ali.

It is alleged the pair knew there would be a complaint and spoke to senior officers, saying they were concerned for Mr Ali's welfare when they saw him in the street and followed when they saw him running away.

'They mislead their supervising officers because they knew very well they should not have chased Mr Ali that morning,' said Mr Richards.

Thomas, from Welwyn Garden City, Herts., and Pitts, from Bedford, were part of an ANPR [Automatic number plate recognition] unit. Thomas had been part of the unit for three years and Pitts four at the time of the incident and were both thought of highly by their superiors, the court heard.

Original report here


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Wednesday, November 26, 2014



British cops condemned as 'inept' over Sir Cliff Richard search

The police force which allowed the BBC to broadcast searches of Sir Cliff Richard's home live on television has been condemned as "utterly inept" by MPs.

South Yorkshire Police should apologise to the entertainer for the "enormous and irreparable damage" caused to his reputation, the Home Affairs Select Committee said.

The report also criticised the BBC’s "misleading"reporting of the police search at Sir Cliff’s home in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on August 14.

The Corporation broadcast live from outside the building, including aerial pictures from a helicopter, and a reporter suggested their presence at the scene was a "deliberate attempt by police to ensure maximum coverage".

In fact, another BBC reporter had "blackmailed" the South Yorkshire force into granting the Corporation exclusive access, in the view of a senior officer in the case, the committee report said.

Police were investigating an allegation that Sir Cliff, whose singing career spans six decades, sexually assaulted a young boy when performing at a Christian rally organised by Billy Graham, the American evangelist, in 1985.

At the time of the BBC’s live coverage Sir Cliff, 74, had not been publicly named by police.

Sir Cliff has not been arrested or charged and has dismissed the allegations as "completely false".

In the new cross-party report, South Yorkshire Police was condemned for its failure to contact senior BBC executives over the report.

Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the BBC director general, told the committee that if a news editor or other senior figure had been informed of the sensitivity of the investigation "we would not have run the story".

Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the committee, said: "South Yorkshire Police's handling of this situation was utterly inept.

"The force allowed itself to hand over sensitive information to a journalist and granted him privileged access to the execution of a search warrant.

"The force should have refused to cooperate and explained to senior BBC News executives why the premature broadcasting of a story, which they claimed the journalist threatened, would have prejudiced the investigation.

"No British citizen should have to watch their home being raided by the police live on television."

After a BBC reporter made an initial approach to South Yorkshire saying he intended to run the story, the force "cut a deal" with him and played an "active part" in assisting the Corporation, the report said.

The force’s Press office texted the reporter on the morning to notify officers were going to begin the search, and even provided the BBC with an aerial photograph of the block in which Sir Cliff’s apartment was located.

Mr Vaz said: "Sir Cliff Richard has suffered enormous and irreparable damage to his reputation and he is owed an apology over the way matters were handled. We are not surprised that he wishes to sell his home.

"Police forces should consider carefully how they deal with approaches from journalists on such matters in the future."

Information about the search appeared to have been leaked to the BBC by someone inside the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Yewtree inquiry into historic sex abuse.

But the South Yorkshire force failed to notify Scotland Yard about the leak, the report said, which it described as "unsustainable".

A spokeswoman for the force said: "Whilst we believe our actions in relation to dealing with the media were within policy and were well intended, they were ultimately flawed and we regret the additional anxiety which was caused to Sir Cliff Richard.

"South Yorkshire Police has changed the way it deals with this type of media enquiry.

"In high-profile cases the force no longer provides privileged briefings to reporters, nor does it confirm information which media sources seek to verify.

"We are fully cooperating with the Metropolitan Police investigation regarding the original source of information."

Original report here


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014



Australia: Job trauma caused rogue cop’s ice addiction, court told

A ROGUE cop who sold sensitive police information to feed his out-of-control ice habit has blamed his crime on the pressures of the job.

David Branov, 42, says he turned to ice because of the trauma of being a police officer, and when the habit turned into a daily addiction he turned to crime to fund it.

He has pleaded guilty to 15 charges, including two counts of misconduct in public office, three counts of theft, attempting to pervert the course of justice, and weapons and drugs charges including the theft of thousands of dollars of worth of methylamphetamine from Fitzroy police station.

A County Court plea hearing heard today Branov could be just one of a string of rogue cops who were based at the Fitzroy station, with investigations under way into other members.

At least two are alleged to have taken bribes alongside Branov to turn a blind eye to drug crime.

The court heard that in one incident an associate of Branov’s paid him and two other officers $3000, which they later split three ways, to let him go after they arrested him on drugs charges.

As his addiction spiralled out of control, Branov sold personal details, including driver’s licence details and criminal records intelligence, to feed his habit.

The officer of seven years teamed up with a drug dealer mate, who is believed to be linked to the Rebels motorcycle gang, to help run a large-scale drug operation in 2009.

He was also paid to investigate suspected drug activities of associates, tip off people under surveillance, and throw investigations of serious crime off course.

Branov also hacked high-level police databases to provide associates with details about his drug associates and drug clients.

His lawyer, Stewart Bayles, told the court Branov started using ice to help him get through tough days on the beat.

He said that as a police officer Branov suffered because of exposure to a number of events and experiences that had had a traumatic effect on him. Mr Bayles said that while it wasn’t an excuse, it put Branov’s offending into context.

Branov, who has spent 208 days in custody on remand, will be sentenced at a later date.

Original report here



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Monday, November 24, 2014



Susan Mellen declared factually innocent after spending 17 years wrongfully locked up

A WOMAN who spent 17 years in a California prison for a murder she didn’t commit has been declared innocent, clearing the way for her to collect about $US600,000 in compensation from the state.

Susan Mellen, 59, said she was "so grateful" for the ruling that came about six weeks after her conviction was overturned and she was released from prison.

"I feel really badly about what happened here," Judge Mark Arnold said, according to City News Service.

Arnold overturned Mellen’s conviction over the 1997 beating death of a homeless man because she was poorly represented at trial and a woman who claimed to have heard Mellen confess was a habitual liar.

Mellen’s conviction over orchestrating the killing of Richard Daly was based on witness testimony.

Deputy District Attorney Loren Naiman, who didn’t handle the case at trial, said the incriminating testimony was doubtful and asked the judge to set aside the conviction.

Three gang members later were linked to the crime, and one took a lie-detector test and said Mellen wasn’t there.

Mellen’s case was taken up by Deirdre O’Connor, head of Innocence Matters, which seeks to exonerate the wrongly convicted. O’Connor said the detective who arrested Mellen also was responsible for a case in 1994 that resulted in two people later being exonerated.

The declaration of "factual innocence" is rare. It allows Mellen, who left prison broke, to claim $US100 from the state for every day she spent behind bars.

Mellen said she cried every night in prison but never lost faith she would be reunited with her three now-grown children. Her youngest kids were seven and nine when she was arrested.

Mellen scrawled the word "freedom" on the bottom of her shoes because she planned to one day walk free. On Friday, she was not only free, but innocent.

Original report here



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Sunday, November 23, 2014



Did British cops put an innocent man in jail to protect one of their own?


The worst mass murder in South Wales criminal history was also the most grotesquely savage. First, the killer entered his victims’ home, went upstairs and smashed a heavy fibreglass pole repeatedly into the face of 80-year-old invalid grandmother Doris Dawson, rendering her utterly unrecognisable. And then he waited.

Just before midnight, Doris’s daughter Mandy Power arrived at the house with her children, Katie, ten, and Emily, eight. The murderer leapt upon all three, killing them in identical, sadistic fashion.

In a perverted twist, he then placed a sex device inside Mandy’s lifeless body. He set a fire to incinerate his traces, waiting for it to take hold. When it didn’t, he calmly started three further blazes.

The killings made national headlines and convulsed the village of Clydach, near Swansea – and not just for their macabre brutality. It rapidly emerged that bisexual Mandy’s sometime lover was a former woman police sergeant married to another, male, police officer – who was himself the identical twin brother of a local police inspector who had gone on a mysterious ‘lone patrol’ on the night of the murders and was the first senior officer at the bloody scene the next morning.

Then, sensationally, all three police officers were arrested and repeatedly interviewed – Mandy’s lover and her husband on suspicion of murder and his twin for allegedly trying to pervert the course of justice. However, none of them were charged and ultimately it was another suspect altogether who was tried and convicted.

Three years after the crimes – committed on the night of 26-27 June 1999 – builder David Morris, now 52, was handed four life sentences for killing Mandy, 34, and her family.

Morris is one of the few criminals in Britain who will almost certainly never be freed: Not because he was given a whole-life tariff, but because he still protests his innocence and so will not be considered for release.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal extraordinary new evidence which casts grave doubt on his conviction and is now the basis of his bid for a fresh appeal.

The first bombshell development centres on a crucial memo in the police HOLMES computer system. This document reveals that a police informant told detectives within hours of the crime that both Mandy and her family were being threatened before the murders because of her gay affair – and that those threats were made by Sergeant Stephen Lewis, the same police officer who was later arrested.

His then wife, Alison, was having the affair with Mandy, and later other witnesses told police that Lewis had discovered it – a claim he has always denied. By the time of Mandy’s death, Alison Lewis had left the force on grounds of stress but continued her career as a Welsh rugby star.

The jury at Morris’s trial never saw that HOLMES document. But inexplicably, a new version of it was manufactured by the police. In part, it read like the original – except it removed all references to Mandy’s affair and Stephen Lewis.

The original is revealed for the first time here. The startling differences beg the question: Why would police so comprehensively doctor such an apparently fundamental piece of evidence?

The other key breakthrough comes in documents showing that scientists found DNA from an unknown man on the murder weapon, on two spent matches used to start the fires and on the clothes worn by Mandy when she was killed.

Male DNA was also found on her watch, a present from Alison Lewis. The killer had placed this on her wrist after she was murdered.

And the significance of this DNA? None of it has ever been matched to the convicted killer. Its very existence was not mentioned at his trial. In fact, there is no forensic evidence that links him to the crime at all.

From the moment he was picked up, David Morris must have appeared an unlikely culprit.

True, he had a criminal record – but for car theft and a bag-snatch robbery in his teens. There was nothing in his past to suggest he was capable of slaughtering a family, and from the day of his arrest in 2001 he has protested his innocence.

Morris said he last saw Mandy Power two days before she was killed, when he bumped into her in the village. He was carrying a gold neck chain; it had a broken clasp and he was planning to get it fixed at the local jewellers. According to him, she invited him back to her house to have sex, but he forgot to collect the chain when he left.

The chain was soon found in Mandy’s house and, after the killings, Morris told his employer, Eric Williams, that it was his. He said he was worried it might be traced back to him. Williams told a friend about his conversation with Morris and, in turn, she informed the police. Morris was arrested.

Then came his big mistake: He lied to the police – panicking, he denied the chain was his. He later admitted that it was, shortly before his trial.

The prosecution claimed Morris, drunk and high on drugs, had gone on a murderous rampage because Mandy refused to have sex with him. Yet, as has been established, no match has been made between his DNA and that at the burnt-out house, and no witnesses said they saw him on the night of the murders.

Moreover, the killer’s vigil between the first murder and last three pointed to him acting in cold blood, rather than in a drug-fuelled rage.

In fact, Morris has been found guilty twice. The first time was in 2002. Three years later, the Court of Appeal quashed this conviction and ordered a retrial because, astonishingly, Morris and Stephen and Alison Lewis all had the same solicitor, so creating a conflict of interest that meant he could not have received a fair trial. At his second trial in 2006, he was convicted again. The judge recommended Morris serve at least 32 years.

Morris lost a further appeal in 2007. However, he found an unexpected champion – Brian Thornton, a senior lecturer on the journalism course at Winchester University.

‘I felt there was something about the case that wasn’t right,’ he told me. ‘I got the files from Morris’s former solicitors and started going through them – boxes and boxes of them. For the past five years, I’ve been working on it with my students.’

Thornton found thousands of pages of records taken from the police HOLMES computer system which had never emerged in court. As he dug more deeply, he realised that the unknown police officer who produced them had done something very peculiar.

The obvious thing to have done would have been simply to print out the various documents direct from HOLMES. But, instead and for unexplained reasons, an officer copied and pasted the text of each one into Notepad, a common Microsoft app.

This operation must have taken hundreds of hours. There is a big difference between HOLMES and Notepad. The text of HOLMES files cannot be changed, once data has been entered. However, as with any word processing programme, Notepad files can be altered.

It is not known whether the HOLMES documents were disclosed to the defence or why they did not regard the fuller version of the document as significant.

Here and there within the mass of paper were just a handful of original HOLMES documents. In a few cases, Thornton was able to compare the original HOLMES version with the later Notepad printout.

One document in particular had been severely edited, so that in the later, Notepad version, its original, apparently significant, meaning was totally obscured. The edited version of what was known as ‘Action 92’ – a logged record of an earlier ‘message’, known as ‘Message 23’ – said merely that there was a ‘source of information stating that Mandy Power [was] being threatened’. It made no mention of who made these alleged threats, or why.

But the original printout was far more detailed. It said that on the day following the discovery of the bodies, ‘Message 23’ came into the murder inquiry incident room. It came from a detective serving with the now-defunct National Crime Squad, who had been contacted by a registered informant.

It stated: ‘I’ve just been contacted by an informant who stated that he knew Mandy Power and she was gay, and that she has been drinking in Farmers PH [public house] Clydach. Informant stated 3 weeks ago he overheard conversation Mandy was having with 2 females who stated that her and her kids had been threatened by her current lover’s husband who was a police officer.’

According to a new submission to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the informant was a neighbour of Mandy’s, David ‘Pancho’ Powell. He later made a statement, which like the HOLMES documents, did not emerge at either trial. In this, he enlarged on his original allegation, saying Mandy had told him: ‘I’ve been threatened, me and my two girls.’

Powell’s statement added: ‘I questioned her as to the threats and she said… "This person has threatened to do us in". She definitely said "Do us in". I took that to mean to beat her and her daughters up. I advised her about going to the police, but she stated "I can’t". Mandy then went on to explain that she was involved in a relationship with another woman and that it was this woman’s partner who made the threats.’

Another witness, Mandy’s neighbour Louise Pugh, said at Morris’s first trial that, a few days before the murders, she heard Stephen Lewis shouting at Mandy outside her house, saying: ‘If you don’t keep away from my wife, I’m going to kill you.’ Interviewed by police after his arrest, Stephen at first denied the whole incident, but later admitted telling Mandy to stay away from his wife, but said it was a ‘joke’ he made because the two women were drunk, and that he and Alison later ‘had a little laugh about it’.

Morris’s dossier to the CCRC says his lawyers, Maslen Merchant and Francis FitzGibbon QC, are ‘extremely troubled’ that inquiries into the alleged threats were ‘abandoned for no apparent reason’. It adds: ‘In the case of Action 92, an attempt appears to have been made to sanitise the report of a threat that plainly related to Stephen Lewis.’

Thornton’s investigation found further significant new evidence – documents showing unknown male DNA all over the scene and on the murder weapon. Basic level DNA-testing revealed that all these items bore traces of cells from someone with a male, Y chromosome – presumably the murderer.

The obvious thing to have done was a further, more advanced test, known as Y-STR analysis, to identify the source of the Y chromosomes. This could have conclusively eliminated or incriminated either Morris or any other suspect. Morris’s appeal dossier states: ‘As the victims were all female, the presence of male DNA is highly significant.’

Inexplicably, however, no Y-STR tests were ever done on these items, and the possibility was never discussed in court. Yet other items from Mandy’s house, which did not bear signs of male DNA at all, were put through Y-STR testing. Inevitably, these tests revealed nothing.

There is a simple remedy, says the CCRC dossier: ‘To gather the samples and test them now, using the most up-to-date techniques.’ Morris himself has urged his lawyers to get the tests done, insisting he has nothing to fear.

Possibly the most bizarre aspect of the case involves Stephen Lewis’s identical twin brother – another police officer, Inspector Stuart Lewis, also a member of the South Wales police. He was the first senior officer to reach the scene of the murders and, like his brother, bore a striking resemblance to a photofit of a suspect seen in the area around the time of the killings.

Both Lewis brothers have always denied knowing anything about the murders or being involved in them. Both men also claimed they did not know of the lesbian relationship between Alison and Mandy.

But it is a matter of record that Stuart Lewis was investigated by Superintendent Alec Davies, acting on behalf of the Police Complaints Authority. His behaviour before and after the murders had been very strange. All night he was the most senior officer in the area on duty, but ‘could not remember’ where he was between midnight and 1.17am, when he was driving around alone in an unmarked police car, a red Peugeot.

Several witnesses said they saw a vehicle matching this description in Clydach at about the time Mandy and her family were killed. Mysteriously, it transpired the car log which should have recorded Lewis’s movements had ‘disappeared’.

Soon after dawn, he was called to the scene, where the fire brigade told him the fire had been started deliberately. It was clear from wounds on the victims’ bodies, which had been moved outside Mandy’s house, that they had been savagely murdered. Yet Lewis spent only a few minutes there and went off duty a short time later, without informing senior colleagues that this was a case of mass murder and arson.

Superintendent Davies said in his report, issued in 2000, that Inspector Lewis made false statements about ‘his actions at the scene and subsequently… I have no doubt that the entries in his statements are lies and designed to deliberately mislead. I believe that he is therefore guilty of attempting to pervert public justice contrary to common law’.

However, Superintendent Davies concluded there was little chance of proving this beyond reasonable doubt and Lewis was charged only with disciplinary offences. He was not demoted as a result and both brothers continued in their roles until retiring in recent years.

Last week, The Mail on Sunday tried unsuccessfully to contact the brothers through the force and through the local Police Federation. A force spokesman said that neither they nor the force could make any comment on the CCRC submission.

Inside his cell on B-wing at Long Lartin high security prison in Worcestershire, David Morris is an isolated figure. He works as a cleaner in the jail but refuses to undertake any of the ‘offending behaviour’ courses which he must pass to stand any chance of future release – because this would require him to admit his guilt. This means he is also denied privileges, such as a games console and daily access to the gym.

Last week, he was able to send a message to The Mail on Sunday. He said: ‘I’ve seen plenty of people who claim they’re not guilty do those courses and get moved to a lower security category. They’re on the road out. They say they’re lying to get released. I won’t do that. I’ll stay here for the rest of my life, if that’s what it takes, because I will not admit to something I didn’t do.’

Now his dossier will be considered by the CCRC, which has the power to order the DNA tests and, eventually, refer the case back to the Court of Appeal. The big question remains: if it is found Morris did not kill Mandy Power, Katie Power, Emily Power and Doris Dawson… then who did commit South Wales’s crime of the century?


Original report here

Saturday, November 22, 2014



US prisoner in solitary for 42 years has conviction quashed

The 1974 murder conviction of America’s longest serving prisoner in solitary confinement has been overturned. But Albert Woodfox, will remain in jail until the state of Louisiana decides whether to contest the ruling.

He could remain incarcerated in a prison cell the size of a parking space for months, if not years, if Louisiana continues to prolong the legal process as it has over the past two decades.

The ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest to exonerate Mr Woodfox without the prisoner being freed.

As far back as 1992 he was cleared of the 1972 murder of a Louisiana prison guard, Brent Miller. But the state chose to press fresh charges the following year and put him on trial again. He remained in custody and was convicted once more in 1998.

Ten years later this conviction was overturned but Louisiana successfully contested the decision in the appeal court. That ruling was in turn overturned in May 2012, but Mr Woodfox remained not only in prison, but in solitary confinement as Louisiana contested the decision once more

This time the appeal court has found in favour of Mr Woodfox, who is now 67. It ruled the second trial was flawed because the selection of a white jury foreman was considered discriminatory in this case and amounted to a violation of the US constitution.

Supporters of Mr Woodfox have alleged that he has been victimised by Louisiana because of his membership of the Black Panther party.

He was one of three prisoners at the jail to join the Panthers, forming a group known as the Angola Three.

The others were freed, Herman Wallace was released in October last year and died two days later. Robert King was freed in 2001 after 29 years in solitary confinement.

Those calling for the release of Mr Woodfox include Teenie Miller, the widow of the murdered prison officer.

Jackie Sumell and a friend of Woodfox hailed the latest court decision. "Now the struggle will be in the court of public opinion, to try and get the state to resist their ... desire to appeal," she said.

Original report here


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Friday, November 21, 2014



Chief constable and 13 other police officers will not face charges after botched murder investigation of promising footballer who died in 'execution style' killing

The negligent and incompetent police should at least be demoted and in some cases fired

Fourteen police officers - including two chief constables - will not face charges over a botched murder investigation of a promising football star.

Kevin Nunes, who had been on the books of Tottenham Hotspur, was found dead in a country lane in Pattingham, Staffordshire on September 19, 2002. The 20-year-old had been savagely beaten and shot five times.

Five men were found guilty of the alleged 'execution-style' murder of Mr Nunes and jailed for a total of 135 years at Leicester Crown Court in 2008.

But they launched a collective appeal and were cleared at the Court of Appeal in March 2012 after a damning report exposed a catalogue of blunders by Staffordshire Police.

After the trial, it emerged concerns over the credibility of the key prosecution witness, Simeon Taylor, were not disclosed to the defence. Mr Taylor claimed to have seen the killing having driven the car which took Mr Nunes to his death. But it later emerged that complaints made by Mr Taylor concerning his treatment while in witness protection were 'put on ice'.

A detective handling the key witness was also involved in an 'intimate' affair with a disclosure officer, it emerged.

A senior detective believed there was an 'at any cost' culture within Staffordshire Police to ensure Mr Taylor gave evidence in the case.

In September last year, a file of evidence was handed over to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The police watchdog probe centred on how the officers acted before the trial and dealings with protected witness Mr Taylor in 2008.

But it emerged today that none of the 14 former and serving Staffordshire Police officers investigated over the murder will face prosecution.

The officers include high-ranking Adrian Lee, the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, and Gloucestershire Police's Chief Constable Suzette Davenport.

Staffordshire Police's temporary Chief Constable Jane Sawyers and West Midlands Police's Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale have also been told they face no further action.

The CPS said it had considered two allegations in connection with the handling of the case.

One was that Staffordshire Police had received a complaint from the main witness relating to a senior officer of the Sensitive Policing Unit in November 2006.

The second matter was the force's failure to disclose the results of internal review of the sensitive policing unit and its handling of Mr Taylor.

Five of the 14 officers were told they would not face criminal prosecution in January and the nine remaining officers were told the same decision had been reached this week.

Commenting on the latest officers to be cleared, a CPS spokesman said: 'We considered whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that any action or inaction was a deliberate attempt to pervert the course of justice or could amount to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.

'The CPS has determined there is insufficient evidence to prosecute any of the nine police officers, four remain in service while five are now retired, investigated either for attempting or conspiring to pervert the course of public justice or for criminal misconduct in a public office.'

The spokesman added: 'The CPS has taken the decision that whatever criticisms may be made about the conduct of the various officers, there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction against any of them for conspiring or attempting to pervert the course of public justice.

'Equally, that there is no realistic prospect of a conviction resulting from the prosecution of any officer for the misconducting themselves in public office.

'Rather than a conspiracy to conceal, the evidence suggested that there was an overall failure to disclose the report.

'None of the officers who could be shown to be aware of the content of the report had a clear and direct responsibility for disclosure in the murder case.

'This CPS decision applies only to possible criminal proceedings and not to any possible misconduct proceedings under police regulations.'

Original report here



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Thursday, November 20, 2014



Ohio's Ricky Jackson exonerated after 39 years in prison


Cleveland: A judge has dropped all charges against a man who has spent 39 years in prison for murder, making him the longest-held US prisoner to be exonerated, an attorney for the Ohio Innocence Project said.

Ricky Jackson, 57, will walk free on Friday after paperwork is completed, attorney Mark Godsey said.

Mr Jackson was convicted along with two others for the 1975 murder of Harold Franks, a Cleveland-area money order salesman, after 12-year-old Eddie Vernon testified he saw the attack, according to court documents.

Mr Vernon, now 53, recanted his testimony and told authorities he had never actually witnessed the crime. There was no other evidence linking Mr Jackson to the killing.

Attorneys for the Ohio Innocence Project in March filed a motion for a new trial after Mr Vernon told a pastor he was on a school bus at the time of the murder, which other witnesses have confirmed.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in court on Tuesday that without an eyewitness there was not much of a case. "The state is conceding the obvious," he said.

Mr Jackson was exonerated by Cuyahoga County Judge Richard McMonagle on Wednesday.

Cleveland police linked a revolver and a green convertible seen at the crime scene to another man who was arrested three years later for aggravated murder in connection with a spree of daytime robberies, according to court records. He was never charged in the murder of Franks.

The two other men convicted with Mr Jackson, brothers Ronnie and Wiley Bridgeman, have also filed for a new trial but those petitions have not been resolved. Ronnie Bridgeman was released in 2003, but his brother remains in prison.

Mr Jackson was originally sentenced to death but that sentence was vacated due to a paperwork error. The Bridgemans remained on death row until Ohio declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1978.

Original report here


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014



Australia: Police bullying and intimidation allegations to be investigated

Widespread bullying allegations within Victoria Police have revealed an entrenched culture of intimidation and stand-over tactics, according to its union, which has called for an urgent investigation by Force Command.

On the day Chief Commissioner Ken Lay announced a taskforce to examine claims of sexism and harassment, Police Association secretary Ron Iddles said bullying was "far, far more prevalent", with the union receiving more than 200 complaints over the past two years.

Detective Senior Sergeant Iddles said he had warned Mr Lay that about 10 police stations throughout Victoria had "serious issues" with bullying.

Fairfax Media understands that Altona North is one of the worst affected stations, with eight police officers complaining about the intimidating behaviour of a senior colleague.

"They're all basket cases," Senior Sergeant Iddles said of the officers affected by bullying.

"We have members who have gone on sick leave, we have members suffering PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and there are indications some members are nearly suicidal," Senior Sergeant Iddles said.

Other problem-plagued stations are believed to include Fawkner, Wangaratta, Gisborne and the mounted branch in South Melbourne.

In August, Mr Lay launched two external inquiries into police suicides and depression after finding some police in crisis were concealing their illnesses because they feared their careers would be damaged if they sought in-house treatment.

A total of 23 operational police and six police public servants have taken their own lives since 1995. Seven police have killed themselves in the past 33 months.

But Senior Sergeant Iddles accused Force Command of failing to respond to a 20 per cent increase in bullying complaints during the past two years.

Fairfax Media understands that just one inspector has been assigned to handle all bullying cases across the state, with most complaints dealt with by email rather than face-to-face interviews.

Several victims of alleged bullying have told the association their complaints had been "white-washed" and "swept under the carpet".

"We know something has to be done about it and the existing policy in Victoria Police doesn't appear to work," Senior Sergeant Iddles said.

"Sexual harassment is only one part of workplace conflict. We support the decision he's made today but it needs to go further because we say bullying in the workplace is far, far more prevalent than sexual harassment."

Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said the claims regarding Altona North station did not "accurately reflect the situation".

"Victoria Police takes bullying extremely seriously – we take any form of inappropriate treatment of our staff seriously, as demonstrated by the chief commissioner's announcement this morning," Mr Cartwright said.

On Thursday, Mr Lay called in the state's human rights commissioner as he launched a statewide taskforce into sexist behaviour among his officers.

He said at least 20 internal sexual harassment investigations during the past three years have revealed "grubby" and "shameless conduct", but the widened taskforce will now handle any and all sexual harassment complaints between officers to ensure the force is a safe place to work.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission will also conduct an independent review, which will determine the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment before coming up with a plan to promote equality and publicly reporting on any progress.

"I want to get in front of this. I want to understand the problem. I need help in resolving the problem," Mr Lay said at a press conference with Human Rights Commissioner Kate Jenkins.

There are more than 14,000 sworn Victoria Police members in the state, and more than 75 per cent of them are men, according to the latest annual report.

While stressing that the number of complaints is very small, Mr Lay said existing cases were reprehensible, involving men filming women in change rooms, making suggestive comments, performing simulated sexual acts, and unwanted groping or touching.

In a recent case, Mr Lay said a male supervisor had been ostracising junior female members to pressure them into sexual conduct. The supervisor would spread sexual rumours about the women before threatening their careers and bombarding them with text messages and comments on social media, he said.

"It's men who have this sense of entitlement that, because they're a man, because they're a supervisor, they think they can take advantage of vulnerable people," Mr Lay said.

Original report here



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Tuesday, November 18, 2014



Police sergeant's career in tatters after he is caught on CCTV jumping over garden fence and taking neighbour's £16.99 wind chimes from in bitter row over bonfire smoke

A neighbours’ dispute over £16.99 wind chimes hanging in a garden has ended in an expensive criminal trial and left a police sergeant’s career in ruins.

Paul Duke, a police officer married to a detective, was caught on CCTV climbing over his neighbour’s 6ft high fence, taking his wind chimes and returning to his own garden to put them on a bonfire.

Neighbour Edmund Looby, 42, and his teacher wife Tatiana, 39, had upset Duke by complaining to the council about fires he had been lighting to burn rubbish during house renovation work.

The Loobys reported the theft incident to police and Duke, 45, told investigators the chimes belonged to him and he was ‘recovering his own property.’

The ‘bizarre’ row resulted in a day-long trial at Doncaster Magistrates Court involving two barristers, eight witnesses and a district judge.

Father-of-two Mr Looby, a construction worker who has since moved to Kuwait with his family, had his £1,000 travel costs paid from the public purse to fly in and give evidence.

The total cost of the case is estimated at around £3,000 – with more than half that bill being paid by the taxpayer.

Duke was found guilty of criminal damage by District Judge Jonathan Bennett. He rejected the policeman’s account that he was reclaiming his own wind chime, describing Duke’s actions as ‘extremely strange behaviour’ and a ‘foolish escapade.’

Duke was given a conditional discharge, ordered to pay £620 and £16.99 compensation to Mr Looby. After 26 years in the force Duke also faces losing his job following the criminal conviction.

Questioning why the wind chime dispute came to court, District Judge Bennett said: ‘Sometimes I wondered today what we were all doing here at an overburdened court to deal with criminal damage out of a neighbour dispute over a £16.99 wind chime. The Crown felt the matter met the public interest and I had to judge it on its merits.’

The court heard Duke moved in to the house at Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in August 2012 with his partner Detective Constable Eleanor Bottomley and their two sons.

The Loobys had lived next door for seven years but were dismayed when Duke started burning doors, cupboards, carpets and plastic in his back garden.

They complained to the council and were advised to keep a log of all fires and were able to monitor activities via a CCTV camera that was previously installed for security reasons.

In March this year they checked video footage – which was played in court – showing Duke dressed in jeans climbing the fence and removing the chimes from the paved garden.

Mr Looby produced a receipt to prove he bought the ‘Chimes of Polaris’ from a local garden centre three years earlier. He described the chimes in court and said: ‘You could hear it most times through the day when it was windy.’ He said Duke never had a wind chime.

Duke told the court he put a wind chime in his garden when he moved there as it came from his partner’s late grandmother and was of ‘sentimental value.’

He was off work for three weeks with a knee problem and realised ‘the wind chime had gone.’ He saw a wind chime hanging in the Loobys garden. ‘I recognised it straight away as our old rusty metal wind chime.’

Duke told the court ‘in hindsight I might have dealt with it differently but at the time it seemed a reasonable thing to do.’

Adding: ‘I had reached a tipping point with everything else that had gone on. I was 1,000 per cent certain it was my wind chime.’

He believed Mr Looby had a ‘vendetta’ against him because he was a policeman. ‘I was very angry when I saw my wind chime on my neighbour’s wall.’

Miss Bottomley said they had decided to get rid of the wind chime because it had gone rusty.

Guy Ladenburg, barrister for Duke, said in law no offence has been committed if the defendant holds an honest or mistaken belief that the property is his own. But the defence was rejected by the judge.

After the case Mr Looby said: ‘I felt passionate about this. I hope people can see the bigger picture. It is the principle of the matter.

‘I would have paid my own fare to come over for this. We have a serving police sergeant who was prepared to climb over a fence and do something like that. It is an absolute waste of taxpayers’ money. But justice has been done.’

South Yorkshire Police are to carry out a misconduct investigation to decide Duke’s future. Detective Superintendent Terry Mann said the public rightly expected ‘high standards of behaviour’ from officers. ‘The force expects its staff to act with integrity and professionalism to ensure people receive a high quality service and have a police service they can be proud of.’

Original report here



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Monday, November 17, 2014



Pablo Escobar's most feared assassin says British businessman imprisoned for 1986 Miami double murder was FRAMED and it was actually the work of the Medellin cartel

A British businessman serving a sentence for two murders has been framed and the killings were carried out by executioners working for Pablo Escobar's notorious Medellin cartel, it has been claimed.

Jhon Jairo Velasquez Vasquez - Escobar's chief assassin responsible for the killing of 300 people - has sensationally stated 75-year-old Kris Maharaj has been wrongly imprisoned just as lawyers battle to overturn his conviction.

Maharaj was working in Miami, Florida, as a property investor in 1986 when he was convicted for the murder of father and son Derrick and Duane Moo Young at a downtown Miami hotel.

His legal team has been battling to have the conviction overturned in recent years with new evidence alleging the murders were carried out by hitmen working for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Now Velasquez, the kingpin's most feared assassin who is responsible for killing 300 hundred people, has claimed through his lawyers that Maharaj was wrongly convicted.

Velasquez, who lives in a secret location following his release from prison in August, called a former agent for the US Drug Enforcement Agency to state his claim,The Guardian reported.

Former agent Henry Cuervo said: 'Velasquez said he wanted to clear his conscience, he wanted to say who had killed the Moo Youngs. He said it was Pablo Escobar and his people.'

Velasquez added: 'As a lieutenant of Pablo Escobar Gaviria, with whom I worked shoulder to shoulder, he told me directly that they had stolen his money and that of his partners and that therefore "they had to die",' the paper reported.

Lawyers for Maharaj described the call in a court hearing which concluded this week.

Yesterday a Florida judge wrapped up the three-day hearing, which was held to re-examine Maharaj's conviction.

His legal team, led by British civil rights lawyer and activist Clive Stafford Smith, hope to persuade Florida Circuit Court Judge William Thomas to overturn the conviction, saying new evidence indicates the Moo Youngs were money launderers who stole from Escobar's Medellin cartel.

Thomas has not said when he plans to rule, but lawyers said it could take several weeks.

As well as hearing from Mr Cuervo, the court heard testimony from an alleged former Medellin cartel enforcer, Jorge Maya, in a taped Skype interview from Colombia claiming that Escobar ordered the hit. He said: 'I am 100 percent sure that ... Kris Maharaj had nothing to do with the assassinations.'

Furthermore, a former U.S. government informant, Baruch Vega, said on Wednesday he learned at the time that the killings were arranged by a top cartel boss who had the hotel room across the hall from where the Moo Youngs were slain.

An American pilot who flew cocaine shipments for the cartel also testified that he heard Escobar say he ordered the killing, telling prosecutors: 'You got the wrong guy.'

A lawyer who investigated the Moo Youngs' finances for a life insurance company testified that their business records suggested they were money laundering, although they were depicted as legitimate businessmen in the 1987 trial.

Prosecutors said the defense case consisted entirely of hearsay and unproven allegations. The Moo Youngs' financial records did not change the case 'one iota,' prosecutor Penny Brill said.

The fingerprints of Maharaj, a once wealthy businessman who divided his time between Britain and Florida, were found in the hotel room where the murders took place and he had a long-running feud with Derrick Moo Young, prosecutors said.

The money-laundering evidence was 'absolute rubbish,' said Shaula Ann Nagel, the daughter of Derrick Moo Young, who sat through some of the hearing. As for the new witnesses, 'why weren't they here 27 years ago?' she said.

Original report here



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Sunday, November 16, 2014



Arrested for arson. Flung into stinking cells. Stung for £40k. How a Greek holiday became a Stygian nightmare for blameless British couple

A British teacher was jailed in France and Greece, handcuffed and forced to pay for his drinking water when he was held under a controversial European Arrest Warrant after wrongly being accused of starting a forest fire.

Keith Hainsworth, 64, an Ancient Greek tutor, was seized at Calais as he and his wife Pippa returned from a weekend in Paris last month.

He was thrown in a French police cell, banned from speaking to his wife or a lawyer, accused of ‘malicious arson’ in Greece with his wife as an accomplice – and branded an ‘environmental terrorist’ by a French judge.

It led to a five-week nightmare which culminated in Mr Hainsworth being flown to Greece from France under armed guard, thrown in a notorious Athens jail and then transported on a nine-hour journey in a ‘cattle truck’ prison transfer wagon with menacing Greek criminals before he was finally freed and returned home on Tuesday.

The Greek judge who ordered Mr Hainsworth’s arrest admitted a mistake had been made – but the couple still face the threat of legal action in the country, where arson carries a ten-year jail sentence.

There are an estimated 3,000 fires in Greece’s tinder box forests each year. No one was hurt and no property was damaged in the one that led to Mr Hainsworth’s detention.

But the couple now face a bill of up to £40,000 for legal fees and other costs. Last night, they backed calls for Britain to stay out of the European Arrest Warrant (EWA), which left them – and the British Government – unable to stop Mr Hainsworth’s ordeal.

In fact – to illustrate how powerless the British authorities are in the face of EAW – Mr Hainsworth was first detained after being handed over to French police by British Customs officials, who admitted there was nothing they could do because they were on French soil.

Mr Hainsworth studied Classics at Oxford, and had a successful career in advertising, working on a Lemsip TV advert, before reverting to his first love – Latin and Ancient Greek – a decade ago. He now gives private tuition in the subjects.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday in the kitchen of their Victorian terraced home in Hampton, South-West London, Mr Hainsworth said of his ordeal: ‘It was disgraceful. I couldn’t see how I was going to get out of it. Far better people than me have been locked up in Athens, like Socrates, and many never came out.’

He kept his spirits up with poetry, spotting familiar Greek ruins through the window grille of his prison lorry, and making self-mocking quips about his resemblance to actor Jack Nicholson.

Mrs Hainsworth, a school governor, added: ‘I was horrified. In Britain you are innocent until proved guilty – in Greece it seems you are treated as guilty from the start.’

Dressed in burgundy trousers and with an Oxford blue scarf draped round his neck, urbane Mr Hainsworth is an unlikely pyromaniac.

His ordeal started in July when the couple toured the Peloponnese region – they holiday in Greece most years – in a hire car.

‘A few miles down the road Pippa said, "Do you smell smoke?" ’ recalled Mr Hainsworth. ‘Her nostrils are notoriously more sensitive than mine.’

‘She said, "Shall we call the fire brigade?" Then we heard a siren, so assuming they were on their way, we drove on and stopped to take some photographs of goats a few miles down the road – hardly the actions of criminals trying to scarper.’

They went home as planned a week later. It was not until three months later – on October 7 – that the long-extinguished forest fire came back to haunt them.

They had been to Paris to celebrate Mrs Hainsworth’s birthday – and so ‘horseracing nut’ Mr Hainsworth could attend the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamps in Paris. After handing their passports to the British Customs officer on their way back via the Eurotunnel, the official summoned French police.

‘The French said, "You’re under arrest. The Greek authorities have accused you of arson,’ said Mr Hainsworth. ‘It was Kafkaesque, amazing.’ The impotent British officials squirmed: ‘I’m sorry, we have to do this because we are on French territory. It’s an EAW.’

Mr Hainsworth was arrested for ‘deliberate and malicious arson with others’ – the ‘others’ being refined Mrs Hainsworth, although she was never detained.

He was put in a police cell with a hole-in-the-ground lavatory, five ‘disgusting smelly blankets,’ and no pillow nor mattress. ‘The French said, "Don’t bother with a lawyer, they can’t do anything for you." ’

His ‘wonderful’ wife booked into a local hotel, drummed up a lawyer and alerted their family, but was banned from seeing Mr Hainsworth or even giving him his pyjamas and toothbrush.

Meanwhile, in the time-honoured fashion of an Englishman abroad in a spot of bother, her husband used his native sang froid to ease the tension. When one sceptical policemen briefly asked if it could be mistaken identity, droll Mr Hainsworth replied: ‘I’m afraid not – there aren’t many Keith Hainsworths.’

He also latched on to the French word ‘ressembler’ (resemble), telling them that his friends used to say he bore a passing ‘ressemblance’ to Jack Nicholson – ‘when I was younger, mind.’

‘One of the policemen charged off shouting, "We’ve got Jack Nicholson down the corridor!"’ he said.

Seventeen hours later, Mr Hainsworth was led out of his grim cell and taken to a court hearing in Douai, 90 miles away.

He had been warned the French could not overturn the EAW. But he was outraged when the French prosecutor demanded he be kept in prison until he was extradited to Greece, accusing him of ‘environmental terrorism’.

The French authorities later relented and released him from custody on the condition he stayed at the Paris home of his brother-in-law and did not return to the UK.

Mrs Hainsworth enlisted the support of their local MP, Business Secretary Vince Cable, Tory anti-EAW campaigner Dominic Raab, and the British Embassy in Greece. But they could not stop the EAW juggernaut.

On November 7, Mr Hainsworth was frogmarched across the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris by two Greek policeman who flanked him on the back row of the plane to Athens. ‘Even when I went to the loo, they stood guard outside,’ he recalls. On arrival in Athens he was dumped in the city’s notorious Petrou Ralli detention centre, where the ‘inhumane overcrowding and lice infestation’ has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr Hainsworth said: ‘It was like a dungeon, a Stygian gloom.’ He had a cell with bars, a tomb-like slab for a bed and no light. But he had held on to his book of W.H. Auden poems.

He said: ‘The other prisoners must have thought I was loony, sitting there in the half light in my brogues, a ghostly figure reading my Auden.’ One of the poems, Shock, is about an incident at Vienna’s Schwechat Flughafen airport which includes the lines: ‘I’m stumped by what happened to upper-middle-class me…when I, I, I, if you please, at Schwechat Flughafen was frisked by a cop for weapons.’ Mr Hainsworth recalled saying to himself: ‘I never thought I could be treated like this either, Mr Auden.’

He was given no food and forced to pay for water. ‘The lavatories were disgusting. The stench of the blankets was overpowering.’

After 15 hours in the cell, he was taken out the next morning and put in a ‘cattle truck’ with dozens of other prisoners. ‘There was a corridor down the middle of the truck with steel cages. The other men were shouting and banging on the walls. It was Bedlam. The man next to me was like a suckling pig, constantly rolling cigarettes and smoking. Not good for my asthma.

‘When we pulled out of the dungeon, I thought this is my Fidelio moment,’ he mused. (In Beethoven’s Fidelio opera, Leonore, posing as prison guard Fidelio, rescues her husband from death in prison.)

Mr Hainsworth was subjected to a nine-hour journey through Greece, bounced off his metal bench as the truck lurched en route to the town of Gythion, near where the forest fire raged, and where, he hoped, his case would be heard and he would be freed.

En route the truck came to a halt at a police station in Napflio, an historic port the Hainsworths have often visited to see the famous Ancient Greek ruins Tiryns. ‘We’d seen the barbed wired prison next door but I never expected to get an inside view,’ he joked.

He was joined by three intimidating youths who cracked their knuckles at him and demanded money. Eventually, he arrived at Gythion, hands cuffed behind his back, hungry, parched and bedraggled. But his sense of humour was intact as he ribbed his Greek lawyer, Georgios Pyromallis, about his name – ‘pyro’ being Greek for fire.

In court Mr Hainsworth was confronted by two women judges, including one who had issued the initial arrest warrant. He observed drily: ‘I said, "I’m ashamed to say I don’t speak modern Greek. You could say it’s a blot on my character".’

The judges were so alarmed by his condition they insisted he had a meal before the hearing – and admitted the EAW should not have been issued. ‘I had been treated like an animal, now the judge was mothering me. It was like Alice In Wonderland. I half expected the Mad Hatter to bring in the tea,’ said Mr Hainsworth.

It was then that he discovered that he had been reported to police by a local truck driver who passed his car near the forest fire. When the man was named in court, there were knowing giggles: he was a well-known mischief maker.

The air of farce continued as the embarrassed judge suggested Mr Hainsworth’s ‘adventure’ would make a good film. Talk turned to who should play him. By now, fed and watered and confident he was about to be freed, he suggested – naturally – Jack Nicholson.

The judges cancelled the EAW but are yet to formally close the case, and could still recall the Hainsworths to Greece.

Mr Pyromallis told The Mail on Sunday the Greek judges had blundered – ‘Unfortunately some use the EAW as a first resort instead of last’ – and revealed the whole sorry saga could have been avoided.

It transpired that Greek police obtained the Hainsworths’ names and number from the car hire firm on the day of the fire. They could have phoned him then and cleared the whole thing up,’ said Mr Pyromallis. ‘Some Greek judges overreact.’

Greek police denied Mr Hainsworth had been mistreated.

Original report here


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Saturday, November 15, 2014



Headteacher who was arrested at his desk on child sex abuse charges and endured year-long court ordeal is cleared by jury in just 15 minutes

The accuser should be prosecuted for perjury

A respected headmaster was cleared by a jury in just 15 minutes of molesting an unruly pupil in his study. James Bird, 53, was arrested at his desk and subjected to a year long court ordeal after he was accused of assaulting a boy more than decade ago when he was head of a Church of England primary school.

The boy, now 20, described as 'aggressive, confrontational and challenging' by staff had been sent to Mr Bird's study for being rude to a teacher in class.

Ten years later he went to police after a drinking session with a friend to claim he was forced to perform sex acts upon Mr Bird as 'punishment' for being naughty at St Peter's C or E Primary School, in Accrington, Lancashire.

During the inquiry Mr Bird was suspended and computer and phones were seized from his home in Leyland - but no inappropriate material was found.

This week following a trial at Preston Crown Court, Mr Bird who is currently headmaster at Newton Bluecoat C of E Primary near Kirkham was cleared of four counts of gross indecency after jurors dismissed the claims almost as soon as they had retired to consider their verdicts. They retired at 12.41pm on Thursday and came back at 12.56pm.

After the case Mr Bird, a Christian father of four said in a statement he was looking forward to getting back to work. He said: 'I'm very happy that the truth has come out. It was made crystal clear in court these incident did not occur and it has been very difficult since these allegations came to light.

'I'd like to thank my many friends colleagues, parents of pupils and other well wishers for all their support prayers and kindness and also particularly the support of our church. We have taken enormous strength from them all.

'Their strong faith and prayers, along with ours have made these 11 months bearable. After 338 very difficult days my family and I need to get our lives back to normal. I am now looking forward to spending some quality time with my 13-year-old daughter who I have not been allowed to be alone with since before Christmas last year. 'Secondly I'm looking forward to returning to my fantastic job as a headteacher and thanking my deputy and all the staff for the wonderful work they have done in my absence.'

Rev David Lyon of St Annes Parish Church who was chairman of governors at St Peter's and who gave a character reference as part of Mr Bird's defence case, said: 'I wonder why this case was brought. 'His approach to children was one that he wanted them to excel and be the best they could possible be. It's unbelievable.'

The court heard Mr Bird was accused of molesting the young boy on 'seven or eight occasions' between September 1 2002 and April 30 2004 when he was ten after he had been sent out of lessons for bad behaviour.

The complainant told a jury when he was taken into Bird's office for the first time, he thought he would be given lines to do as a punishment. He said: 'He used to say "you're bad aren't you?" and "you have to do this, this is your punishment". I just cannot get it out of my head what he has done now that I am older. It has just messed up my life.'

He added: 'I did not know what he was going to do. Normally you get lines that you have to write. We went to his office. He sat down and we did talk a bit about why I was misbehaving, but we did not really talk for that long.

'That is when he said, "it is more serious than you think and you are going to have to take a punishment for it". That is when he started making me do stuff.'

It was claimed on one occasion he was disciplined by Bird, who took him out of class to his office, where he shut the door and blinds and forced the boy to perform sex acts on him before calling his mother in to school to discuss his behaviour.

In December last year, while he was drunk, the man told a close friend about his claims and he was encouraged to report Mr Bird to police.

In an interview, hours after his arrest Bird blasted the man's claims as being 'absolutely ridiculous' and told officers he had always had an open door policy when disciplining pupils. He said he remembered the pupil, telling officers: 'He wasn't always a good boy, I remember that.'

But he said he could not remember any specific incidents where he had been involved in disciplining the schoolboy or spoken to him in his office.

Joan Smith, a former colleage of Mr Bird recalled the boy's behaviour being 'confrontational and challenging' at times and added: 'I often wondered what his aggression was about. He was quite an aggressive boy and I couldn't understand the reason. We got on well and had a good relationship.'

Today Det Con Karen Parker of Lancashire Police said: 'Whilst we are disappointed with the outcome of this trial, we of course respect the decision of the jury and I would like to thank them for their consideration of this case.

'Lancashire Constabulary remains committed to investigating allegations of sexual offences, no matter how historic, and no matter what the role, position and status of the alleged offender, and we would encourage anyone who has been a victim to come forward safe in the knowledge that they will be treated sensitively and professionally.'

A spokeswoman for the CPS said: 'The jury have had an opportunity over the course of the trial to hear and fully consider both the prosecution and the defence cases and we of course respect the verdicts.'

Original report here


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Friday, November 14, 2014



Young farmer who shot at escaping burglars to stop them running over his mother sues crime tsar who accused him of endangering the public

A young farmer who fired a shotgun to protect his mother from being run over by intruders is suing a controversial crime tsar who claimed he endangered the public.

Bill Edwards, 23, has accused North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan and North Yorkshire Police of smearing him – then squandering tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to fight the £50,000 libel case at court.

He claims remarks Mrs Mulligan made in a radio interview – based on police advice – were libellous and have led to him being shunned by potential employers.

Former public schoolboy Mr Edwards was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in August 2012 after catching two burglars red-handed as they tried to steal tools, furniture and scrap metal from his family's property.

As his mother, Louisa Smith, frantically dialled the police for help, one thief fled on foot while the other jumped into a Ford Transit van and accelerated towards her.

Fearing for their lives, Mr Edwards fired his legally-held shotgun at the vehicle as Mrs Smith screamed: Shoot out the tyres.’

Mr Edwards hit the windscreen and bodywork — but nobody was hurt. They then gave chase, with the farmer driving while his mother gave a running commentary to police on her mobile phone. Police eventually caught culprit David Taylor a few miles away.

Despite the terrifying ordeal at the isolated woodland property near Scarborough, North Yorkshire, Mr Edwards was arrested, locked up overnight and had his guns confiscated.

In December 2012 – after languishing on bail for four months– police dropped the charges after prosecutors concluded he used ‘reasonable force in self-defence’.

Meanwhile, Taylor, who claimed he had been ‘traumatised’ during the break-in, was charged with theft and escaped with a paltry £100 fine – prompting Mr Edwards to tell his story to the Daily Mail.

But in January 2013, Mrs Mulligan gave an interview to BBC Radio York claiming there were ‘exceptional circumstances’ which had led to his arrest.

Despite being completely exonerated, the Tory crime tsar – under fire for spending £10,000 on ‘branding’ including a new logo at a time of crippling police cuts – suggested Mr Edwards had not told the truth, according to court papers.

She told listeners there were ‘aspects of this case that are quite serious and I think that those details are not in the public domain… We cannot let people get the impression that they can take the law into their own hands.’

Court documents claim the PCC was wrongly briefed by senior North Yorkshire Police officers that Mr Edwards tried to shoot out the thief’s tyres during the high-speed chase – rather than while he was standing in the farm’s yard.

In its defence to the lawsuit, North Yorkshire Police admitted Acting Assistant Chief Constable Ken McIntosh had ‘apologised’ for passing ‘inaccurate information’ to the crime tsar. It ‘extended’ the apology to Mr Edwards, but insisted this was ‘without any admission of liability for defamation’.

Mr Edwards said Mrs Mulligan’s remarks were defamatory and that it is hard for him to find work because farmers in the community now think he is a liar.

He is also challenging the police over a decision to confiscate his shotgun and other firearms which he used to control pests on farmland and revoke his license.

He said: ‘After the thief was fined they had me on the news and radio and then they had the police on. That should have been the conclusion of everything.

‘But [Julia Mulligan] went and made these statements that destroyed everything. My boss came out and told me to leave work because he heard that on the radio and sent me home.

‘I went from being a hero who saved my mum’s life while standing up to a thief, to people thinking there was something I was hiding. Their assumption was, "What is he not telling us? What is he hiding?"

‘It is a huge burden because people who I used to work with think I’m a liar who has not been telling the truth.

‘Farmers have tens of thousands pounds of equipment and machinery and why would they trust me on their machinery? You're finished if something happens and they don't trust you.

‘I was hoping for an on-air apology to rectify what she had said because it has had a huge effect on me, but she has refused.’

A court hearing is pencilled in for Leeds High Court in January, where the commissioner – elected to hold the force into account – will be represented by the same legal team as the police, prompting concerns about a conflict of interest.

Solicitor Andrew Gray, who represents Mr Edwards, said: ‘My client's life has become a living hell, due to the actions and failures of North Yorkshire Police and its Police and Crime Commissioner. Bill is a hero, not a villain, and he should be have been treated accordingly.’

The case is understood to have cost North Yorkshire Police around £40,000 of taxpayers’ money.

The force claim it would be ‘inappropriate’ to comment on the case.

Mrs Mulligan said: ‘Mr Edwards has instigated legal proceedings and it isn’t appropriate that either of us should comment on the details of a live legal case. We need to let this case follow due process and I have every confidence that it will come to an appropriate outcome.’

Original report here



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