Sunday, October 28, 2012

England schoolboy rugby star locked up - 'for filming police having break in a bar while on duty'

A man was arrested, handcuffed and put in a cell overnight after filming police officers apparently having a coffee break in a bar while on duty.

Management trainee Jake Coplestone, 20, claims that when police handed back his iPhone containing the footage, the handset had been tampered with repeatedly in a crude attempt to crack the password – resulting in it being ‘locked’ for 42 years.

But he was able to retrieve the 51-second video, and show it to The Mail on Sunday. It shows five officers relaxing late in the evening in the Azuza, a bar and coffee shop, during a weekend shift in Marlborough, Wiltshire, five weeks ago.

Mr Coplestone claims that following the filming he was approached by two of the officers and accused of being drunk and disorderly, then arrested.

Wiltshire Police dispute his account and claim he was warned to leave the area because he was committing a public order offence, but was arrested when he returned.

However, the force last night launched an investigation into his allegation that he was arrested because he had filmed the officers.

Recalling the incident, Mr Coplestone and one of his friends said he was approached by the officers who had seen him filming. The friends say the officers discussed whether to arrest 6ft 5in Mr Coplestone under Section 60 of the Public Order Act, then decided on ‘drunk and disorderly’ after he protested.

At this point, Mr Coplestone says, he was seized by one of the officers and led off to a car park behind the Azuza venue just off Marlborough High Street where police patrol vehicles were parked.

Mr Coplestone says he was handcuffed and bundled into a vehicle and taken to the custody suite at Swindon. There, he claims he repeatedly asked to be breathalysed to prove that he was not drunk but that was refused.

Wiltshire Police policy is to offer breathalyser tests only to drink-driving suspects. Instead, he says, he was put in a cell overnight and released the next day.

Mr Coplestone says his mobile phone was returned five days later – after the intervention of his solicitor and on condition he paid an £80 fixed penalty – but it was blocked, with a screen message saying ‘iPhone is disabled, try again in 22,461,058 minutes’.

With help from a software programme ironically named Jail Break, he was able to unlock the phone and retrieve the film.

Mr Coplestone, who played rugby for a south-west England under-16 squad, said: ‘The only logical explanation for my phone being disabled for 42 years is that someone had been trying to access my files to delete the video footage of officers in the club. I was not drunk and disorderly and I believe the only reason for my arrest was my taking footage of the officers standing at the bar.

‘I’m discussing what to do, including court action and a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, with my solicitor.’

Chief Superintendent Paul Mills, Head of Local Policing, said in a statement: ‘No formal complaint has been made and the Force have not seen the alleged footage. However, due to the serious allegations being made by Jacob Coplestone, this will now be subject to an investigation by the Force Professional Standards Department who are responsible for the oversight of all conduct matters attaining to police officers and staff.’

Ch Supt Mills said records showed Mr Coplestone chose to pay the fixed penalty rather than have the matter heard in court.

Mr Coplestone’s allegations, if upheld, will add to the Wiltshire force’s tarnished reputation. The IPCC is already investigating failures in the case of murdered Becky Godden. Taxi driver Christopher Halliwell couldn’t be tried for the crime, even though he confessed, as detectives had denied him his rights under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Last year Deputy Chief Constable David Ainsworth, 49, hanged himself after 13 female staff made 26 separate complaints against him of inappropriate sexual advances.

Original report here

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