Friday, October 31, 2014

Drunk British cop who kicked his girlfriend in the stomach in a rage after HE left £30 in a cash point avoids jail

A former firearms police officer who kicked his girlfriend in the stomach after he flew into a drunken rage because he had accidentally left £30 in a cash point has been spared prison.

James Vosper, who has 16 years' experience as a police officer, had drunk a bottle and a half of wine before his girlfriend Melissa Mustoe, a mother of two, arrived home.

His attack was recorded after Miss Mustoe, 37, called police when she managed to lock Vosper out of their home in Abbeywood. After he kicked her in the stomach Miss Mustoe remained on the phone for 40 minutes and seemed breathless and scared.

The court heard Vosper has recently resigned from his role at Gloucestershire Constabulary before he was 'pushed'.

Vosper, a father of two, had previously been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder following an incident at work and as a result had started drinking heavily. He had been drinking on the night of the attack on December 11. He had texted Miss Mustoe to say that 'everything has gone to rat s***' after he realised he had made a mistake at the cash point.

When police arrived he tried to claim he had been the victim of assault and acted in self defence.

But magistrates dismissed his argument and found him guilty of assault after a two-day trial.

However they decided his guilty conviction did not include an accusation he throttled his partner during the incident, which he had been accused of during the trial.

Speaking during the trial, prosecutor Ian Jackson, said: '[He] kicked her in the stomach while she was on the phone to police. 'During the course of the 999 call you can hear part of the alleged attack taking place. You can hear her reaction. 'Very shortly in, about four or five minutes you can hear her explain she has just been kicked in the stomach by Mr Vosper.

'Throughout the call she sounds breathless, exasperated and scared. To have waited on the phone for 40 to 45 minutes she must have genuinely been fearful.'

The officer was given an 18 month community order. The couple had been together for five years after both their marriages failed.

Alexander West, defending Vosper, said: 'He has been forced to resign from his role as a police officer. He has lost his job of 16 years as a result of his actions.

'It's a somewhat forced resignation in that it was a jump before being pushed. 'A serving police officer can not be seen having a conviction for domestic violence assault on his record. He simply resigned before being forced.'

Bristol Magistrates' Court heard that Vosper is currently working his four-week notice period and will retain his pension - but it will be frozen until he is 60.

Mr West, defending, added his client had no previous convictions and the assault was 'largely contributed' to by alcohol - a problem Vosper was now addressing. 'He has submitted to regular testing', he said.

'They have found towards the end of the programme his alcohol use had dramatically reduced to the point that he was no longer considered a habitual user.'

Patricia Jell sentenced him to an 18-month community order, with 18-months supervision, and a requirement to complete the 'Building Better Relationships' course. He was also ordered to pay £930 costs, an £85 fine and a £60 victim surcharge.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Man Calls a Suicide Prevention Hotline, SWAT Team Shows Up and Kills Him

A Roy, Utah man, Jose Calzada, 35, placed a call to a suicide prevention hotline at 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning and threatened to kill himself, seven hour later he was shot and killed by police, according to law enforcement.

According to ABC 4, neighbors described Calzada as a quiet, friendly man, who was divorced and now lived in the home with his girlfriend and her children.

The first tragic mistake in this case was made when the Weber County Consolidated Dispatch Center sent officers to the residence rather than some type of crisis response team trained to deal with suicidal individuals.

From previous cases, such as that of Jason Turk, who was shot twice in the face after a suicide call to 9-1-1 by his wife, or that of Christian Alberto Sierra, who was suffering from depression and had attempted suicide when police showed up and shot him four times, killing him, most know all too well what happens when you send officers to "assist" people threatening suicide.

Subsequently, a SWAT team came to the residence and "negotiated" with Calzada for more than seven hours before taking his life.

"At some point those negotiations failed and unfortunately the SWAT team was involved in a shooting, and the subject is now deceased," said Roy PD spokesman Matt Gwynn.

Eyewitness Ron Smith told the Standard-Examiner that he heard "one shot, and then a pause, and then four or five shots after that, that were very rapid."

Specifics of the case were not released but Gwynn was sure to explain the cop logic of reasonableness stating, "Officers are authorized to stop a threat whenever their life is threatened, or the life of another is threatened. And at that point if the officer feels he is justified, he may act to stop that threat."

"This is being treated as a officer assisted suicide or suicide by cops," Gwynn said.

While that could potentially be the case, this is usually the default position of law enforcement when unprepared officers show up to deal with individuals experiencing severe mental health issues.

Often police go into these situations with an ingrained mentality of looking at citizens as threats to the safety of the officers and thus feel empowered and justified to use lethal force as the suicidal person has already threatened to kill someone, themselves.

Gwynn went on to state, "We encourage those having suicidal thoughts or tendencies to contact a physician or expert that can talk them through it. In this particular case he attempted to do that — it’s unfortunate and sad that it failed."

Sadly, Gwynn’s words ring hollow as Calzada did exactly as Gwynn suggests and ended up paying the ultimate price as is far too often the case in these situations.

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Police Officer Sued for Pointing Gun at Teen’s Head for a Seatbelt Violation


My guess is that the cop was scared

The family of a Georgia teenager is suing the Waycross, Ga., Police Department for $12.5 million after a police officer allegedly pointed a gun to their son’s head and handcuffed him on the ground —all for a seatbelt violation.

The incident occurred on Jan. 18 when high school senior Montre’ Merritt was returning home and pulling into his driveway. Officer Cory Gay had been following Merritt for several blocks, but turned on his flashing lights when they neared Merritt’s house.

Instead of conducting a normal stop, however, Gay approached the vehicle, pointed a gun to Merritt’s head and forced him to lie on the ground. Despite Merritt’s insistence that he had done nothing wrong, Gay called for backup and handcuffed the teenager —while his mother watched in horror.

When backup arrived, Gay released Merritt and cited him for a seatbelt violation. No explanation was given to Merritt or his mother about why such force was used.

Merritt recalled the emotional shock he experienced from the encounter:

"Coming from me being a huge role model in my community, to see my mom witness that. That was one of the most painful things I could ever imagine for her. The pain that I still feel. The tears that I still cry. Everything is just real in reality. I have to wake up with this on my heart and on my mind every day, and it hurts."

As a result of this incident, Gay was suspended without pay for five days after the Waycross police chief determined the use of force was unjustified. Gay was subsequently required to attend use-of-force training.

But the Merritt family asserts the extra training is not enough.

Their lawsuit claims Gay falsely arrested Merritt, intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him, assaulted him and deprived him of his civil rights. Additionally, the lawsuit claims the city of Waycross and the Waycross Police Department were negligent for not properly training Gay.

They also claim the incident was racially motivated.

"What we have to do is target those wrong police officers and those wrong police departments that will harbor and maintain practices that take the lives and take the rights of citizens," said Reginald Greene, the family’s attorney.

The allegations about Gay’s behavior, if true, raise some troubling questions. What possible purpose was served by ordering Merritt to lie on the ground while pointing a gun to his head? There is no indication Merritt was behaving in a threatening manner. The Waycross Police Department took the right steps by recognizing that this was over the top and disciplined the officer.

Stories like this bring to mind other instances of inappropriate police overreaction:

In Piedmont, Okla., a local police officer issued a $2,500 citation to a mother whose 3-year-old was urinating in their own front yard. Instead of simply ignoring a toddler who was still being potty trained, the officer wrote the ticket anyway.

In Summerville, S.C., the local police arrested a 16-year-old boy for jokingly stating in a creative writing assignment "I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur." As a result of the arrest, the teenager was suspended from school for the rest of week.

In North Augusta, S.C. the police arrested and charged a young mother with disorderly conduct for using profanity while shopping for groceries—even though she had a First Amendment right to speak her mind.

In this case, whether Gay’s decision to point a gun at Merritt was based upon racial prejudice or was simply the result of a lack of training, it is undisputed that a serious error took place, largely due to poor judgment by the officer.

Warren E. Burger, former chief justice of the United States, wisely once remarked, "The policeman on the beat or in the patrol car makes more decisions and exercises broader discretion affecting the daily lives of people every day and to a greater extent, in many respects, than a judge will ordinarily exercise in a week."

It is this authority which requires equal amounts of training and judgment for the public to truly have faith in their officials. Powerful discretion over the lives of average citizens should be exercised with wisdom. Not every situation calls for the use of force, and not every confrontation deserves to be escalated into a criminal arrest.

If police officers wish to uphold their oath to "protect and serve" then serious examination is required of the policies and procedures that lead to incidents like this.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sweeping police reform CAN cut crime

How Cops Are Beating Crime in America’s Poorest City. Is Camden, New Jersey, a "surveillance city" or a triumph of 21st century policing?

It's been called "surveillance city," "a police state," and "a proving ground for futuristic crowd-control technology."

Camden, New Jersey., considered the poorest and most dangerous city in America, is getting a reputation for being the epicenter of Big Brother-style law enforcement. A VICE story that aired recently on HBO and a piece in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi—which depicted Camden as an apocalyptic "dopescape of barred row homes and deserted factories"—drove home this point.

The city's streets are monitored by 121 cameras and 35 microphones, which feed data to a new $4.5 million Real Time Tactical Operations Intelligence Center. The police department runs a mobile "Sky Patrol," which is a platform that extends 40 feet into the air, providing a bird's eye view of the city for a bevy of camera feeds.

Camden's tilt towards surveillance is somewhat disconcerting, but overall the stories told by VICE and Taibbi—who wrongly declared that there's "no hope" in Camden—miss what's laudable about the city's new approach to policing. A year and a half ago, Camden was liberated from an outrageous police union contract that let cops get away with working bankers hours and desk jobs—when they bothered to show up for work in the first place. Now, thanks to the dissolution of the union contract and other reforms, Camden cops are actually doing the job of policing this crime-ridden town. And they're making headway.

Breaking the Union

Camden's old city-run police force abused its power and abrogated its duties. It took Camden cops one hour on average to respond to 911 calls, or more than six times the national average. They didn't show up for work 30 percent of the time, and an inordinate number of Camden police were working desk jobs. A union contract required the city to entice officers with extra pay to get them to accept crime-fighting shifts outside regular business hours. Last year, the city paid $3.5 million in damages to 88 citizens who saw their convictions overturned because of planted evidence, fabricated reports, and other forms of police misconduct.

In 2012, the murder rate in Camden was about five times that of neighboring Philadelphia—and about 18 times the murder rate in New York City.

Then in 2013 the city dissolved the 141-year-old department and replaced it with a new county-run force (known as "Metro") that was redesigned from the ground up—or every "police chief's dream," says Jose Cordero, 58, the highly regarded law enforcement expert and Bronx native who was brought in to configure the new agency. Cordero is best known for overseeing a 70 percent violent crime drop in East Orange (another impoverished Garden State town) when he was the city's police director there from 2004 to 2007, a period in which the city's poverty rate barely shifted.

A year and a half after Camden tapped Cordero, crime is down. So far in 2014, Camden has had half as many homicides as it did in 2012, which was the city-run force's last full year of operation (albeit a record high year for murders).A Metro cop on foot patrol. ||| Jim EpsteinJim Epstein

And residents are buzzing about how the city feels different. "I hear less gun activity, and I feel that it's less likely that I'll be the victim of a violent crime," says Pastor Tim Merrill, 56, a lifelong resident of the city who runs a youth leadership program and is the president of the Concerned Black Clergy of Camden. "It's drastically different in a positive way," says Lorsely Boogaard, 56, who has resided in Camden for 18 years.

When the city disbanded its police force, the union contract was invalidated, which allowed Cordero and Metro Police Chief Scott Thomson to assign many more officers to foot patrol in dangerous neighborhoods.

The old city-run force was rife with cops working desk jobs, which Cordero saw as a waste of money and manpower. He and Thomson hired civilians to replace them and put all uniformed officers on crime fighting duty. Boogaard says she didn't see a single cop during the first year she lived in the city. "Now I see them all the time and they make friendly conversation." Pastor Merrill says the old city-run force gave off a "disgruntled" air, and the morale of Metro police is noticeably better. "I want my police to be happy," he says.

Another coup: In Metro's first year, Cordero and Chief Thomson scored a one-year exemption from state civil service rules, which severely limit the discretion that police chiefs have in hiring and promoting their staff. That made it possible for them to break rank and quickly elevate talented junior officers. On Cordero's initiative, Metro replaced the basic aptitude test for screening new recruits mandated by civil service, which "has nothing to do with law enforcement." The new test was geared toward identifying candidates with interpersonal skills; a sample essay question asked aspiring Camden cops to recount a "difficult situation" in which they "displayed empathy and sensitivity toward others."

Cordero also redesigned the field-training program to stress community-building tactics. "The new officers were taught that when they walk the streets they have to go meet people, introduce themselves, and ask people what they're concerned about," he says.

Jose Cordero |||"As police, we sometimes forget that we operate by the consent of the community," says Cordero, "and our success is determined by the community." This philosophy stems from Cordero's background as a high-ranking commander with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), where he spent time in a division of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent body that investigates instances of alleged police misconduct. Later he was the commanding officer of the NYPD's community advocates office.

His goal was to shift perceptions of crime, not just improve stats. In the mid-1990s, when Cordero served as the head of the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx, he observed that when crime rates fell, community members didn't always feel safer. That's because often their concerns were hyper-local. "The homicide rate is what the nation watches, but residents may be more focused on the drug dealers on the corner that their kids have to walk by," says Cordero. "It's still the zombie apocalypse in downtown Camden on a Saturday," says Pastor Merrill referring to the city's drug addicts, but the narcotics trade has mostly moved indoors.

Surveillance City

Under Cordero's watch, Camden was wired to the gills with cameras and microphones. When a gun is fired in the city, a system of microphones called ShotSpotter can triangulate the signal and pinpoint the location of the shooter within several feet. Using their home computers, a team of citizen volunteers can direct the city's many surveillance cameras to zone in on activity that they deem suspicious.

Civil libertarians are right to be concerned about government surveillance, but they should also acknowledge that unlike the paramilitary gear that horrified the nation when it appeared on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, cameras and microphones actually make communities safer. ShotSpotter raises privacy issues, but it also liberates police from having to rely on citizens to report gunfire and it can bring a squad car to the scene of a shooting in no time. When ShotSpotter detects gunfire, Camden's new Automatic Vehicle Locator System can instantly determine the location of the two nearest patrol cars, which has brought the city's average 911-response time from one hour to 90 seconds.

It's incumbent on local police departments to be more open about how they're using the data they're collecting and to invite independent monitors to oversee their internal procedures. Like wearable cameras for cops, which the ACLU favors, street surveillance can also protect citizens from being abused by the police, which is why Metro should make the footage it collects available to the public upon request.

The bottom line: Turning off the cameras and microphones isn't the solution.

"Citizens are generally more interested in knowing when cameras are coming to their block," says Cordero, which is understandable given the severity of the city's crime problem. "Twenty years ago, I would have been on the civil liberties side, but now I think the [surveillance] is absolutely wonderful," Laura Sánchez told The Philadelphia Inquirer when the cameras first started appearing in the city. Robert Kressley, 44, says these tactics are appropriate if used effectively. "If all the cameras are really upping the rate at which the police are able to apprehend violent offenders, then it's OK," he says. "I'm hearing from a lot of people that this is a deterrent," says Pastor Merrill. "And I want the police to know instantaneously where a shot came from."

But Merrill is skeptical that better policing tactics are the solution to the crime problem. He believes the key is to bring more jobs into the community. "In Camden, I guarantee that poverty and high crime will be kissing cousins until we handle both of them."

Merrill is articulating the still prevalent view that crime is rooted in poverty, which the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald has called "one of the most destructive social theories that came out of the 1960s," providing the intellectual underpinnings of the Great Society. It also gave urban cops a great excuse to treat their jobs like 20 years of seat warming en route to a fat pension, while waiting for poverty to be eradicated.

Cordero has spent his career demonstrating that safe streets are a prerequisite to economic activity, not the other way around. "In the poorest community, there are a lot of good folks who just can't afford to move elsewhere and the people causing the problems are a minority," he says. "So if you deal with them effectively, you can bring down crime by a staggering amount." Hopefully, he'll be proven right again in Camden.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Monday, October 27, 2014

Video: Cop Shoots 'Aggressive' 6-Month-Old Puppy, Gets Paid Leave

Cleburne Police DepartmentCleburne Police DepartmentAmanda Henderson of Cleburne, Texas should have made sure her dogs were securely locked up. Otherwise, her six-month-old pit bull, Maximus, might still be alive.

Maximus and two other pit bulls escaped Henderson's property while she was shopping for school supplies for her kids in August. Officer Kevin Dupre responded to a call and shot Maximus several times, killing the pet.

Henderson, who says she never received an explanation of what happened, just came forward to local media about the incident because she recently got her hands on Dupre's body camera, and she says it contradicts his official account of what took place.

You can watch and judge for yourself whether or not the officer's action appeared to be justified. Warning: The video is graphic:

Dupre's police report reads, "I raised my duty weapon to the ready position – pointed at the growling dog's head. As soon as I lifted my pistol, the dog began coming up the hill, continuing to growl and display its teeth…I fired three shots at it."

Henderson sees something different take place. "You see the dogs are happy and playing, they don't even realize [Dupre] is there until he calls them over. They say there's more to the story, but there's no more there. There's no reason he couldn't have used a tranquilizer, pepper spray, a taser instead."

In fact, an animal control officer collected one of Henderson's other dogs without problem. That dog was also caught on Dupre's body camera, trotting right up to the other officer and obeying commands to follow. The third pet was "secured without incident before the shooting" according to the Cleburne Police Department.

Over the weekend, some 10,000 people liked a Facebook page titled "Justice for Maximus," which planned a protest on Saturday.

The police department, which acknowledges it does not train officers to deal with loose dogs, insists that the "the short video" of the shooting "does not tell the whole story" of the dog's "aggressive" behavior toward Dupre. However, yesterday the department announced that it was conducting an internal investigation. And, "we're also talking to another possible, independent, group about doing a review," says Mayor Scott Cain.

The department doesn't know how long the investigation will take, but in the meantime, Dupre is on paid administrative leave as of Friday.

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Man Busts Cop for Patrolling in Unmarked Car -- and gets away unmolested

Here's a fun little tale from "liberty activist" Gav Seim. Seim lives in Washington state, where it's illegal for cops to drive unmarked vehicles unless these vehicles are specially designated for "undercover or confidential investigative purposes." This means that officers can't just cruise around in unmarked cars pulling people over for petty offenses.

This law makes sense, writes Seim, because "unmarked vehicles are a ripe opportunity for confusion in a citizens reaction and for criminals to impersonate lawful authority" for nefarious purposes. And the Washington courts take the law seriously: One resident had a felony charge of eluding police thrown out because the vehicle pursuing him was unmarked, and others have had traffic infractions invalidated for the same reason.

On October 11, however, Seim noticed a cop driving an unmarked car in Grant County, Washington—so Seim flagged the officer over and asked if he had been pulling people over in the vehicle. Deputy Dustin Canfield said indeed, he had. Seim then informed him that he was in violation of state law and asked to see the officer's ID.

"Mr. Seim, I'm not gonna play the game with you," says Deputy Canfield. "This isn't a game; it's called law," Seim retorts. And eventually the cop gives in and produces his license! Canfield also seems genuinely interested (and unaware) as Siem explains the unmarked car law. Watch an unedited version of the encounter here or Siem's edited version at the link.

With the kind of cop footage we're used to seeing lately, it's almost astonishing that went as well as it did. Had another officer been involved, or especially if Seim was a bit less fair-skinned, it's easy to imagine that encounter turning out differently.

But "Deputy Canfield handled this well," wrote Seim after the incident. "I want officers to treat people with respect and I in turn do the same. Disrespectful public servants should never be tolerated, respectful ones should be commended." So cheers, Deputy Canfield! You were illegally pulling people over in an unmarked car for who knows how long, but you didn't physically harm or arrest someone for pointing it out —well played.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Man Gets Arrested for Just Playing His Guitar in New York City

Watch out: dangerous guitar players could threaten you next!

That seems to be the mindset of the New York Police Department. The NYPD recently arrested a local musician for loitering while playing the guitar in a New York subway station, despite reading word for word the law which allowed him to perform his music.

The incident was recorded and uploaded to YouTube on Friday. The video shows Andrew Kalleen being confronted by an unidentified police officer who orders him to pack up his guitar and leave the subway station.

In the background, an onlooker exclaims, "We have bigger problems in New York City than someone playing guitar!"

Kalleen disputes the order to leave, and instead requests that the officer read Section 1050.6c of the MTA Rules of Conduct. That section states in pertinent part:

"Except as expressly permitted in this subdivision, no person shall engage in any nontransit uses upon any facility or conveyance. Nontransit uses are noncommercial activities that are not directly related to the use of a facility or conveyance for transportation. The following nontransit uses are permitted by the Authority, provided they do not impede transit activities and they are conducted in accordance with these rules: public speaking; campaigning; leafletting or distribution of written noncommercial materials; activities intended to encourage and facilitate voter registration; artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations"

Despite reading out loud the clear language of the rule, the officer tells Kalleen that playing the guitar was prohibited, and that since he lacked a permit, he must leave. The officer never told Kalleen he was impeding transit activities—just that playing an instrument required permission from the government.

The crowd watching the confrontation was clearly disturbed by the officer’s ultimate decision to arrest Kalleen and remove him from the subway platform.

An unidentified voice in the background shouts, "You said it out loud. You said it out loud. There are crack dealers in New York City, and you are arresting this man for playing a guitar!"

Another says, "I listen to this guy’s music every day, I like it. I don’t wanna hear you trying to arrest him." reported the NYPD’s response to the incident:

Kalleen was playing guitar, singing and accepting donations ‘without permit of permission’ from the MTA. Because he is a ‘transit recidivist,’ which the spokesperson explained as someone having an open ticket or warrant, perhaps related to turnstile jumping or a similar offense—he was arrested and charged with loitering. There was no mention of him impeding transit activities.

Was there truly an outstanding warrant for Kalleen’s arrest? If so, the behavior and statements of the NYPD officer certainly did not support that conclusion. Kalleen was repeatedly told in the video he would have to leave because he lacked a permit, not because he was a "transit recidivist."

From all that we can see on the videotape, the musician did nothing justifying his arrest. There is no evidence that the musician was disturbing the public or being a nuisance. What really went on here is that the musician refused to comply with the officer’s directive to leave the station and stood on his rights.

Interestingly enough, our knowledge of this incident was made possible only because someone videotaped it on a camera or cell phone, something that others have been arrested for doing, in violation of the First Amendment.

Not every incidence of perceived misconduct merits law enforcement intervention–especially when the MTA Rules of Conduct allow artistic performances. Unless Kalleen was causing harm to others around him, or impeding the flow of traffic, the NYPD should have refrained from turning an underground concert into a criminal arrest scene.

Instead of entertaining a crowd who were clearly enjoying his rendition of Pink Floyd’s "Wish You Were Here," this guitarist will be playing "Jailhouse Rock."

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sham wedding trial collapses: Judge slams lies of border staff as he is forced to free asylum vicar 'who ran conveyor belt of bogus marriages'

A vicar suspected of running Britain’s biggest sham marriage racket has walked free after his £1million trial dramatically collapsed as a result of ‘serious misconduct’ by the Border Agency.

The Rev Nathan Ntege, 54, was accused of overseeing a ‘matrimonial conveyor belt’ of Eastern European brides at his parish.

The jury was told weddings at his church rocketed from six a year to up to nine a day – with chaotic ‘cattle market’ scenes as brides who seemed to scarcely know their grooms hurriedly squeezed into ill-fitting shared wedding dresses in the lavatories.

But all charges against the Uganda-born clergyman were thrown out. In extraordinary courtroom scenes:

Judge Nic Madge accused two officials of perjury and perverting the course of justice;

Defence lawyers claimed immigration officer Maggie Harkins and chief immigration officer John Bradbourne destroyed and tampered with evidence, acted dishonestly and interfered with the investigation log;

The court heard that five months of evidence, including key admissions by some of the accused, vanished, only to reappear at the 11th hour;

Harkins faces a misconduct inquiry after it was revealed she posted the slogan ‘Peppa Pig against Muslims’ on her Facebook page.

The collapse of the trial leaves taxpayers with a £1million bill and means two disgraced public servants – who have since been suspended from duty – could now face criminal charges themselves.

Angela Pelachie, 54, and Innocent Odoh, 34, were also accused of being involved in the scam. The court previously heard that couples lined up at the back of the church before having their ceremonies

It is also a huge embarrassment for the now-defunct Home Office agency and raises fresh questions about the state of the nation’s beleaguered immigration controls.

Ntege, who wore his dog collar in the dock at Inner London Crown Court, was accused of carrying out 494 fake marriages, an average of one every other day, between December 2007 and March 2011. He joined St Jude’s with St Aidan’s Church in Thornton Heath, South London, in 2002, after seeking asylum from Uganda.

The vicar was ‘fast-tracked’ into the post because officials were desperate to recruit more Africans – and in the words of the prosecutor, thought he brought ‘a bit of colour to proceedings’ in the Church.

But suspicions were aroused of a ‘no questions asked policy’ when the Church went from conducting six marriages a year to up to nine a day.

Ntege was accused of knowingly presiding over sham marriages as almost £70,000 in wedding fees went missing.

Verger Brian Miller, 81, and Maudlyn Riviere, the 67-year-old church secretary, as well as four others, were also accused of being part of the ‘industrial-scale’ plot. They all denied the charges.

Most of the weddings involved Bulgarians who had the right to live and work in Britain marrying husbands or wives from outside the EU whose UK visas had expired.

But after several days of legal argument, Judge Madge threw out the case, saying to proceed would endanger the ‘integrity’ of the courts. He agreed there had been an ‘abuse of process’ involving Harkins, who led the inquiry, and her boss, Bradbourne.

In scathing comments, the judge said: ‘Officers at the heart of this prosecution have deliberately concealed important evidence and lied on oath. It has tainted the whole case.’ Last night, Ntege described the case as a ‘perversion of justice’ and said the high number of weddings was due to the increasing popularity of his church.

He told Channel 4 News: ‘Most of them were legitimate. I don’t say we weren’t duped – there were a few who tried to use the advantage – but whenever they were caught, we reported it to the diocese, the Home Office and the police.’

The saga has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced internal inquiries.

Harkins, Bradbourne and a third officer have been suspended. One source said: ‘The UK Border Agency must have trusted these officers to give them the biggest sham marriage case Britain has ever seen.

‘They must be seen to take this very seriously. These were both experienced officers who had worked on a number of cases. It calls into question how those cases were carried out.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The collapse of this trial is an extremely disappointing end to a long investigation. We expect the highest standards from all our staff, and clearly we are treating the judge’s ruling that our officers acted in bad faith with the utmost seriousness.’ A CPS spokesman said: ‘We accept the ruling that the prosecution case has been fatally undermined.’

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Big coverup of police incompetence in Britain

Why is the death of this baby cloaked in secrecy? Judges ban details... then inquest lasts just seven minutes
The facts surrounding the suspicious death of a 13-month-old girl remain shrouded in official secrecy nearly two years on.

Judges have imposed a draconian order preventing details of the death of Poppi Worthington from being revealed.

Authorities have repeatedly refused to reveal any information about the circumstances in which Poppi died, despite a long-running police investigation.

During an inquest this week that lasted a mere seven minutes, a coroner simply ruled that the cause of her death was ‘unascertained’ and failed to disclose any other information.

The police investigation has led to the arrest of two people, including Poppi’s father Paul Worthington, 46, who was questioned on suspicion of sexually abusing his child.

No one has yet been charged as a result of the Cumbria Police inquiry, which continues.

But it can be revealed that the force itself is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over its response to the death.

An officer has been suspended after concerns that the force did not respond ‘properly and appropriately’. At the inquest on Tuesday, the coroner merely referred to a family court hearing held in private earlier this year and opted to rely on its findings.

A far-reaching injunction means that the media has been prevented from revealing various details about the case, including where Poppi lived or the hospital in which she died.

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who campaigns for open justice in the family courts, said that the injunction could prevent wrongdoing by public bodies from coming to light.

‘The strict injunctions that sometimes apply in family court proceedings often act to protect public officials from allegations that they have not done their job properly rather than protecting a child,’ he said.

‘In this case, anonymity for the family may be reasonable – but why can we not know any more? A lot of these injunctions just protect people who receive a salary from being questioned.’

A serious case review, begun by the Cumbria Local Safeguarding Board in April, may eventually be made public.

Cumbria County Council said it had no involvement in Poppi’s life before her death on December 12, 2012.

During the inquest at Cumbria Coroner’s Court, coroner Ian Smith recorded an open conclusion. He acknowledged that the circumstances around the death were ‘unusual and strange’ but failed to elaborate on any aspects of Poppi’s brief life or death.

The inquest also appeared to be veiled in secrecy, with a listing for the hearing omitting Poppi’s name and instead referring to ‘a child aged 13 months’.

The opening of the inquest in February 2013 also took place in private, with no recording or transcript available. According to coroners’ rules, inquests should always be held in public unless exceptional matters of national security are involved.

Mr Smith said he was happy to rely on the findings of a judge in the High Court’s family division in June and did not need to go over the same ground.

The Daily Mail has joined other media organisations in arguing that there is a public interest in revealing how Poppi died and how authorities dealt with her.

Cumbria Police confirmed that a 30-year-old woman and 46-year-old man have been arrested and remain on police bail.

In a statement the force said: ‘Cumbria Police can confirm that an investigation is still ongoing into the death of a one-year-old girl who died in Cumbria on Wednesday, December 12, 2012.’

‘We can confirm that the constabulary has made a referral to the IPCC and they are conducting an investigation.

‘Currently a number of officers are subject of the investigation and one officer has been suspended.’

Original report here

UPDATE: Secrecy now partially lifted

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Australia: Six Adelaide SAPOL police officers charged with theft, abuse of public office

POLICE will probe into the culture of the alleged offending of six officers arrested in the first major bust by the state’s new ICAC and its potential causes, Police Commissioner Gary Burns says.

Speaking outside the Police Association of SA annual delegates conference this morning, Mr Burns said a police department review of the Operation Mantle team where the officers worked would consider "the circumstances that may have fostered this type of behaviour to make sure it doesn’t happen again or in any other Mantle team".

He said the seventh member of the team, a senior constable who has not faced charges, was also under investigation.

Mr Burns said the investigations of those officers, who have been suspended on full pay, may put cases they were working on under threat and also revealed the charges relating to property damage involved the destruction of potential police exhibits.

"That’s part of what we are looking at now — what the broader impact on policing is, in particular if these particular officers are involved in any arrests or reports that might be before the courts or going before the courts," Mr Burns said.

He was unable to identify how many investigations it could affect.

Police Association of SA President Mark Carroll said the all members of the team are association members and should be considered innocent until proven guilty. He said the association would be speaking with them over the coming days.

Earlier this morning, Mr Burns told 891 ABC radio the offending ranks as a "ten" on the scale of one to ten in its seriousness.

Despite considering the level of alleged corruption as low level, when asked on radio this morning to rank the seriousness of the alleged offending Mr Burns had no hesitation in putting it at the top of the scale.

"From a police department’s perspective I expect every police officer to act with honesty and integrity," he told 891 ABC radio this morning. "Talking to people within the department there’s quite a level of shock and horror about it.

"All I’m trying to say here is no form of corruption should be tolerated. "From a police perspective this is something that really impacts on us particularly when it comes to public confidence."

Mr Burns said he did not have a value of the goods allegedly taken by the officers charged. He said while none of the goods could be considered high value there were greater issues at play for police.

"The issue for us is that these officers used their authority to enter premises to investigate drug offences and while they were doing that the allegation is that they took this type of equipment and they had no authority to do that," he said.

Mr Burns agreed with the suggestion that prosecutors would allege the officers charged "got sticky fingers". "Yes, that’s right," he said.

Mr Burns and Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander announced the officers, including a sergeant, were charged on Monday with abuse of public office and stealing items including alcohol and electronics.

Mr Burns conceded the arrests would damage the public impression of SA Police. "The allegations are very disappointing," Mr Burns told The Advertiser today. "Obviously every police officer in South Australia ... will be concerned about this, because we work on reputation. "We need public confidence and public support.

"Any matter like this, where police officers are involved in criminality will always have an impact." "It shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on the other 4500 police officers who go out and do their work on a daily basis to the best of their ability."

He said a deeper probe of the Operation Mantle branch would be conducted.

The joint investigation was led by Mr Lander with assistance from SA Police’s Anti-Corruption Branch. The four men and two women will appear in court on December 19.

The six officers are part of a seven-person Operation Mantle drug squad operating from the Sturt police station. They include a sergeant, senior constables and constables:

* A 53-year-old man from Darlington has been charged with abuse of public office and aggravated theft.

* A 43-year-old man from Aberfoyle Park has been charged with two counts of abuse of public office, two counts of theft, and property damage.

* A 38-year-old man from Woodcroft has been charged with two counts of abuse of public office, two counts of aggravated theft and property damage.

* A 33-year-old man from Camden Park has been charged with abuse of public office and aggravated theft.

* A 31-year-old woman from Sellicks Beach has been charged with abuse of public office, aggravated theft and property damage.

* A 27-year-old woman from Woodcroft has been charged with abuse of public office and aggravated theft.

Mr Burns said "irregularities" were first raised with senior police in January and February this year. The ICAC was then alerted, as required by legislation, including interviews with the one member not arrested and former staff in the unit.

"This is isolated to a small group," Mr Burns insisted. "We’ll be looking at what opportunities they had that formed this little subculture that they operated."

The six officers face a total of 18 charges including abuse of public office, aggravated theft and property damage. They range in age from 27 to 53. The group is not accused of onselling the allegedly stolen property.

Mr Lander, a former Federal Court judge, said he took charge of the inquiry to ensure that a person independent of the police force was probing the allegations.

Mr Lander said the accused officers had "let down" the force but he remained impressed by the professionalism of Anti-Corruption Branch officers he had worked with. "I thought it appropriate that somebody independent of SAPOL head the investigation because of the allegations that have been made," Mr Lander said.

"I’m satisfied with the integrity of the Anti-Corruption Branch. "I think they would have still carried out the investigation even if I had not been occupying the position I did."

Mr Lander said he was "disappointed" by both the allegations and evidence uncovered.

Mr Burns said Operation Mantle was dispatched to deal with "low level" drug dealing and street crime. There was "no indication" the officers had stolen drugs, he said. "It’s mainly in the lower-category items. Liquor, tools, some electronics," Mr Burns said.

"The arrests today don’t finalise the investigation. This investigation will be ongoing."

SA became the last state in the nation to set up an ICAC when the new watchdog became operational in September last year. This is its first case to result in arrests.

Mr Lander has previously revealed he had referred some allegations for prosecution.

Premier Jay Weatherill said he was disappointed by the allegations but said the arrests vindicated his move to set up an ICAC after having claimed the Labor leadership.

"Of course it’s awful when we see these breaches in public trust," he said. "The public should have confidence the ICAC is doing its work and, where it finds these instances of breaches of public integrity, it’s rooting them out and bringing people to justice.

"The truth is there are still people that engage in opportunistic episodes of corruption, and we’re seeing that revealed. "It’s a good thing though (that) before these things take hold and become institutionalised that they’re able to be searched for, found and the people that have had these breaches of public trust brought to justice. "I’m confident that it’s an isolated instance."

The officers have been suspended from duty pending court proceedings.

Last month, Mr Lander told The Advertiser he had referred a middle-ranking public servant to the Director of Public Prosecutions and was preparing other briefs.

He said one case under investigation related to the "conduct of a senior person in public administration’’ and local government was over-represented in complaints.

Of more than 900 complaints and reports made in the first year of the ICAC’s operation, less than 60 are under investigation for corruption-related offences after being assessed.

Mr Lander’s first report to State Parliament is expected to be tabled within weeks.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Police officer called over a family's dog then SHOT it for no reason

A Texas community is outraged over a newly released video showing and officer calling a pitbull over before shooting the dog to death.

The incident happened in August but footage has just now been released by the Cleburne police department.

The officer, who has not been identified, claims the pitbull was aggressive and rushing towards him.

CBS DFW reports that the officer was called to Lindsey Lane in response to a 911 call from a woman saying three pits were menacing a car and keeping people from leaving.

The loose dogs belonged to neighbor Amanda Henderson.

She said the footage showed a murder. 'I see him murdering my puppy, our family...our dog,' she told WFAA. She says that the footage shows no reason to shoot her dog.

'Never once did Max stop wagging his tail. Never once do you hear a growl, an aggressive anything,' she said.

Footage shows one pitbull running up to one cop with its tail wagging upon the officer's arrival.

Another officer, fitted with a body camera, can be seen going behind the house to find two more dogs in a ditch.

The unidentified officer is heard to make kissing noises at the animals as a gun comes into frame.

The officer claims the dog was charging with teeth barred when he opened fire, but in the footage the gun fills most of the frame.

Police say the video is not representative of the situation, and that the officer who fired was trying to get the dogs secure until animal control could respond when one animal became a threat.

Residents are not comfortable with how he handled the situation.

'To call the dog and act like you’re going to be sweet to the dog, and you just blatantly shoot it, I don’t think that’s right at all,' says neighbor Virginia Granger.

Kristin Dodge, who also lives in the area, told CBS DFW the dogs were well behaved and played with her kids. 'These are people’s pets. These are people’s family. To see something like that happen wasn’t really necessary, I think,' she said.

Both the pitbull's owners and the 911 caller have since moved out of the neighborhood.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Monday, October 20, 2014

How British police fitted me up for a vile sex crime they KNEW I hadn’t done, says Met’s gun girl who’s suing over ‘malicious leaks’

When Carol Howard, the former poster girl for the Metropolitan Police, took her employers to an employment tribunal, the verdict was huge embarrassment to the pre-eminent force in the land.

The Met was found to have subjected her to an orchestrated campaign of ‘malicious, vindictive and spiteful actions’, which effectively derailed a glittering 13-year career.

Just how malicious and vindictive, however, she has only now revealed. Because, in a new legal action, 35-year-old Miss Howard says her employers not only discriminated against her, but accused her of crimes – including possession of an indecent image of a child – she had not committed to silence and discredit her.

More shocking still, details of the ‘crimes’ were passed to the media and even to the employment tribunal in an apparent smear campaign, despite the fact that, in at least two cases, the allegations against her had already been quietly dropped.

‘I’m in no doubt at all that these arrests and so-called allegations were a crude attempt to silence me,’ says Carol, a firearms officer attached to the elite Diplomatic Protection Squad, whose image was seen all over London as the face of the Met at the 2012 London Olympics.

‘I have had my reputation besmirched. My personal life was turned inside out, my daughter kept from me and fingers pointed at me as though I was some kind of sexual deviant and unable to do my job properly.

‘I was effectively being punished for daring to think I was as good as the white men I worked with and for speaking up for myself.’

She says she has issued legal proceedings in an attempt to force the Met – which still employs her – to own up to its actions.

Carol was arrested on three occasions between August last year and April 2014, leading to a total of eight investigations against her for ‘crimes’ including criminal damage, harassment and perverting the course of justice.

In fresh employment tribunal papers, seen by The Mail on Sunday, Ms Howard also accuses the Met of maliciously informing Sussex Social Services about an ‘indecent image’ to spark a child protection investigation that prevented Ms Howard from seeing her six-year-old daughter for four weeks. The information was passed on despite the fact Sussex Police had already decided it was not necessary to refer the matter to social services.

In one particularly humiliating instance, five uniformed Met officers arrived at her daughter’s school and marched her away.

She is particularly angry that investigations following her arrest on April 22, 2014 were dropped within a matter of weeks, yet she was not informed and was kept on suspension and police bail until the end of July 2014 when the Met finally told her they would be taking no further police action against her.

Worse still, the Met told both the media and the Tribunal judge about Ms Howard still being on police bail as a result of this arrest as late as July – based on investigations that had already been abandoned. She spent a full 13 months on bail with the threat of legal action that never materialised.

Ms Howard has already spoken about the way she was victimised within the Met’s firearms squad, in particular by her Acting Inspector who had attempted to ‘undermine, discredit and belittle’ her.

But the breakdown of Carol’s ten-year relationship with the father of her youngest daughter made matters worse. She and her husband separated in 2012.

‘In August last year, not long after our separation, we had a dispute. He was upset and under so much stress he stupidly went to Crawley police station and falsely claimed that I had assaulted him 14 months previously and harassed him,’ she says.

She is still astonished, however, at how quickly things spiralled out of control after that.

‘Even if I had scratched him, which I didn’t, it would only have been a minor offence of common assault, but the Police deliberately ramped it up to the more serious allegation of actual bodily harm to justify an arrest.’

Although Rob called the station seven times without my knowledge to withdraw his allegations, he stated he was being fobbed off. Then on the day prior to my arrest, he went to the station in person to make a withdrawal statement and he was told to ‘go away and to come back later at 6:30pm’ and the same officers attended my home and arrested me at 6:00pm – 30 minutes before he was due to return to the police station. It was a set-up.’

Carol says she was held for four hours in a police cell before being interrogated ‘like a common criminal’. And, although this was Sussex police’s jurisdiction, she was confronted on arrival at the police station by a Met police inspector who had been involved in her tribunal complaints and was later found to have acted unlawfully against her. Carol believed this further supports her claims of both forces working together to close ranks against her.

‘I felt the officers in attendance were enjoying the fact that I was frightened and upset.

They didn’t bother to tell me or my solicitor that Rob had withdrawn his statement. Given my clean record they could simply have invited me in for an interview under caution, but it was all done with malice and clearly pre-planned. The Met wanted to have the arrest over me, so they could use it at the forthcoming employment tribunal.’

But when her husband lodged a complaint over their treatment of Carol, he too was arrested by the same police officers for perverting the course of justice and wasting police time. Carol feels he was being punished for standing up for her.

To Carol’s astonishment, in January 2014 she, too, was further arrested for perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation (the police claimed she had cajoled her husband into withdrawing his allegations against her.)

In May 2014, it is alleged that the Metropolitan Police contacted Sussex Social Services and asked them to carry out a child protection referral into an ‘indecent image’.

In her latest employment tribunal application Ms Howard says: ‘There was absolutely no basis on which the innocent picture of my own daughter could be said to be indecent. Even Sussex police had apparently accepted that there was no basis on which to inform child protection or social services about the matter. However, to victimise me and harass me further, the Met had maliciously referred me to Sussex social services and closely liaised with Sussex Police to do so.

‘I did not see my daughter for four weeks. It was awful and heartbreaking. I had to go to my daughter’s sports day and see parents look at me in disgust because they thought I was a paedophile,’ she recalls.

‘It is the worst thing you could say about any woman – especially a mother – and I was unable to defend myself, because of it. It is all connected with my complaints of discrimination against the Met. They appear to victimise officers who complain by arresting them.’

Last month an employment tribunal awarded her £37,000 in aggravated damages for sexual and racial discrimination. But she says it is no compensation for being falsely labelled a ‘child predator’ – or the destruction of her career.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Sunday, October 19, 2014

At least 2,000 corrupt British police officers suspected of 'tipping off criminals, stealing, fabricating evidence and using their power to get money and sex', says Home Office report

At least 2,000 officers have been suspected of tipping off criminals, stealing and fabricating evidence, says a Home Office report.

The Home Office Select Committee will launch an investigation next month into police corruption after claims officers also used their power to get money and sex.

The probe comes amid a series of police scandals that have related to recent inquiries involving phone-hacking and the Plebgate scandal.

In a Home Office report analysis by researchers revealed that the government estimate that at least 2,000 officers of all ranks could be comprimising the police by dealing with criminals.

The report states that intelligence over a one year period from some forces involved in their research showed that between 0.5 per cent and one per cent of the 200,000 police staff were 'potentially corrupt.'

It explains: 'Corrupt activities across these examples have included the protection of criminals for financial payments, the theft and recycling of drugs to criminals, the stealing of money from crime scenes, and the fabrication of evidence to obtain convictions.'

It also adds how some officers 'used their powers to obtain money or sexual favours from the public.'

Among the corrupt practices listed by the 2003 report are dealing and using drugs, fraud and domestic violence as well using 'sexist, racist and homophobic behaviour.'

It also pointed to raids where suspects could have been tipped off because when officers arrived there was no incriminating evidence and they already 'had the kettle on'.

The report also adds that corruption could be taking place at all levels and suggests that police should be dealt with behind closed doors if they commit crimes, to make it 'less damaging'.

Critics say this Home Office report shows why now Home Secretary Theresa May is having to deal with historic police scandals.

Member of the Home Affairs Select Committee and Conservative MP Lorraine Fullbrook told the Independent: 'Labour's kid-gloves treatment of the police bred a lack of accountability which ultimately let down the public.

'There has been a loss of confidence in the police as a result, which is quite dangerous. Theresa is trying to tackle these historic issues to restore the public's trust.'

Earlier this year, it also emerged that dozens of corrupt police officers helped organised criminals hide evidence, intimidate witnesses and access details of ongoing operations.

An internal investigation by the Metropolitan Police claimed officers were bribed to destroy surveillance logs and some officers even co-owned houses and racehorses with suspected gang leaders.

The 2002 report, produced as part of Operation Tiberius, an investigation into police corruption, named 80 corrupt officers. More than half of them were still serving at the time.

However, a statement issued by Scotland Yard said said that the Met continued to investigate corruption, and has 'no complacency' about the matter.

Policing minister Mike Penning told the newspaper: 'The public expect the police to act with honesty and integrity and it is right that the full force of criminal law is available to punish and deter acts of corruption by police officers.'

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Saturday, October 18, 2014

British police took away mother's panic alarm in 'huge catalogue' of failings before she was strangled by ex who had killed a previous partner

Police took away a mother's panic alarm in a 'huge catalogue' of failings just months before she was strangled by her ex partner - who had already killed before.

Marc Chivers - who had been convicted of murdering another woman in 1992 - used a dog lead to kill Maria Stubbings at her home in Great Baddow, Essex in December 2008.

A four-week inquest into the death has revealed a series of failures by Essex Police in 'almost every part of its investigation'.

Ms Stubbings' family has lashed out at police claiming they were as much to blame 'as the murderer himself'.

The inquest in Chelmsford heard Ms Stubbings began a relationship with Chivers without knowing he had killed his last partner.

Ms Stubbings was considered to be 'high risk' after she reported an assault by Chivers in July 2008 and was given a panic alarm. But this was taken away a day later when Chivers was arrested.

Later that year he was found guilty of assault but was freed having already spent three months in jail awaiting the hearing - but Ms Stubbings was not told of his release.

The jury heard that she then made repeated 999 calls to police, but officers did not go to her house for a week.

When they finally did, Chivers, who had previously been jailed for murder in Germany, answered the door only for police to leave when he told them Ms Stubbings had gone away.

Her body was found the next day hidden under a pile of clothes in her bathroom. Chivers was jailed for life at Chelmsford Crown Court in 2009.

In 1992, Chivers, who was born and raised in Germany, strangled his first victim with a rope before burying her body in a shallow grave and going on the run.

He was arrested three months later before being jailed.

Speaking after the jury returned a damning narrative verdict, Ms Stubbings' family launched a scathing attack on Essex Police.

A statement issued by her brother, Manuel Fernandez, her daughter Celia Peachey and son, Benji Stubbings, said: 'Maria's murder is as much the fault of Essex Police as the murderer himself. 'They assessed Maria as being at high risk of death or serious harm from Chivers. 'Yet when she called asking for help, they found every excuse to do nothing.'

The family confirmed Essex Police have now admitted civil liability in a case brought against them. 'After six years of fighting for justice we are grateful to the jury for finding a huge catalogue of police failures,' they added.

Essex Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray is sending a report about the case to the Government.

Afterwards Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh admitted Essex Police did not protect Ms Stubbings and apologised to her family. He said: 'I know nothing can ever bring Maria back but I want them to know the way we deal with domestic abuse in Essex has changed greatly. 'Maria's family have shown great courage and determination in holding us to account for the mistakes we made.

This is not the first time Essex Police has been accused of failing a victim of violent crime.

In 2012 an investigation found a catalogue of police failings allowed killer David Oakes to murder his ex-partner and daughter.

The police watchdog said officers took 'inadequate action' to arrest the 50-year-old before he shot Christine Chambers, 38, and Shania, two, at their home in Braintree, Essex.

Oakes, of Steeple, near Maldon, was given two whole-life jail terms after being found guilty of the murders, which happened in June 2011.

It emerged during his trial at Chelmsford Crown Court that police had visited either his address or Miss Chambers' home six times in the two years before the murders.

The trial heard that Oakes stormed Ms Chambers’ house and blasted her and their daughter Shania with a shotgun just weeks after the family gained a restraining order against him. He then shot himself in the face, but survived.

A damning report released by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded there was a number of failings by Essex Police, including missed chances to arrest Oakes before the killings.

Responding to the report, Essex Police said it accepted the findings and apologised for the failings which had been identified.

In March, it was revealed that police had failed to attend a call just hours before a mother was brutally murdered by her jealous ex-partner.

Jeanette Goodwin, 47, was stabbed more than 20 times by her former lover Martin Bunch at her home in Southend, Essex, in July 2011.

Bunch had stalked his ex-partner for months and was on bail for harassment when he broke into her back garden in a jealous rage with a kitchen knife.

A domestic homicide review by the Southend Community Safety Partnership said police failed to attend a call on the day of the murder.

Mrs Goodwin called police at 2.30pm on July 24, 2011, to inform them she was being harassed by Bunch and arranged for officers to check up on her at 4.30pm.

But police failed to attend the arranged meeting and only came hours later when a panic alarm was sounded during the frenzied attack at around 7.30pm.

'I have made it a personal mission that a situation like hers must never be allowed to happen again.

'Protecting every single person at risk of domestic abuse is a huge challenge for the police and our partners, but it is one we are determined to meet.'

In May last year, the Independent Police Complaints Commission judged Essex Police 'missed a large number of opportunities' to deal with Ms Stubbings' case before she was killed.

It concluded: 'It is ironic that Ms Stubbings was offered the most support and protection while Chivers was in prison, when the risk from him was minimal.

'When he was released both she and her son were left completely vulnerable.. 'All the risks that were there when Ms Stubbings called the police in July still existed after his release; indeed arguably the risk was even higher, as Chivers had just served several months in prison as a result of her complaint.

'Ms Stubbings was then murdered by Chivers and her son has endured profound and ongoing trauma as a result of his mother's brutal death.'

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here


Friday, October 17, 2014

Mother of four who spent 19 days in jail now wants compensation after police admit she has not broken the law and release her

A mother of four who was jailed for taking a legal high into a prison during a visit has been released after prosecutors realised they were wrong over the charge.

Sharon Bolton, 38, spent 19 days in prison and missed her daughter's 18th birthday while she was locked up.

She had been jailed for taking Voodoo, a legal high, into prison during a visit to a former partner because it was believed to be on a list of 'banned substances.'

However prosecutors were forced to admit they had made a mistake when they realised Voodoo was not on the 'banned list' and Ms Bolton had not actually committed a crime.

She was then released from prison after 19 days.

The grandmother of three is now set to demand compensation from the Crown Prosecution Service, which has admitted there could be other cases of people wrongly punished for having substances which are not classed as illegal.

She said: 'I was put in a cell on my own and I was really nervous. We were locked up 21 hours a day. 'My concern was for my family. Two of my children live at home. 'My grandson was a few weeks old.'

Ms Bolton, whose children are aged between 16 and 22, was sentenced to nine months in jail after she took Voodoo into a prison where she was visiting a former partner, according to Louise Smith, of the Daily Mirror.

She was told Voodoo was on a list of 'banned substances' and pleaded guilty at a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court on September 18 to 'conveying a prohibited item into prison'.

While she was serving her sentence at HMP Peterborough prosecutors realised their mistake and the 38-year-old was taken back to court where Judge Michael Heath ordered her release.

A spokesman for the CPS admitted there could be other cases where people had been incorrectly punished. He said 'a small number of cases' were now being checked. 'The decision to charge was made by the police,' he added. 'But we acknowledge the issue should have been picked up.'

When he jailed Ms Bolton in September, Judge Michael Heath said: 'There has to be an element of deterrence. Those people who take items like this into prison have to go to prison themselves.'

Ms Bolton, of Rhodesia, Notts, was also given a six-month conditional discharge for possessing amphetamine.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Real Victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse

The dangers were imaginary, but the consequences were not

Among the atrocities that Frances and Dan Keller were supposed to have committed while running a day care center out of their Texas home: drowning and dismembering babies in front of the children; killing dogs and cats in front of the children; transporting the children to Mexico to be sexually abused by soldiers in the Mexican army; dressing as pumpkins and shooting children in the arms and legs; putting the children into a pool with sharks that ate babies; putting blood in the children’s Kool-Aid; cutting the arm or a finger off a gorilla at a local park; and exhuming bodies at a cemetery, forcing children to carry the bones.

It was frankly unbelievable—except that people, most importantly, a Texas jury, did believe the Kellers had committed at least some of these acts. In 1992, the Kellers were convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a child and each sentenced to 48 years in prison. The investigation into their supposed crimes took slightly more than a year, the trial only six days.

And now, even the Travis County district attorney agrees that the trial was unfair.

After multiple appeal efforts and 21 years in prison, the Kellers are finally free. Fran Keller, 63, was released from prison on Nov. 26 on a personal bond, just in time for Thanksgiving. Her daughter was waiting for her with a bag full of the first clothes that weren’t prison-issued that Keller had seen in years. Dan, who turned 72 in prison and now walks with a cane, was released on Dec. 5; this time, Fran was there to greet him. (The Kellers divorced while in prison yet remain close, as close as two people locked up in separate prisons for crimes they say they didn’t commit can be.)

Why did psychotherapists and investigators conclude that these fantastic allegations were true?

The Kellers were released after the doctor who had testified at their trial and provided the only physical evidence that any sexual assault had taken place recanted his testimony. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg agreed with the findings of appeals filed on the Kellers’ behalf that they were denied their right to a fair trial and that their conviction should be overturned, allowing the Kellers to be released while their appeals move through the courts. In practical terms, this means the Kellers are on a path that may lead to their complete exoneration—and that they were able to celebrate their first Christmas with their families in more than 20 years.

Their release may also finally mark the end to one of the strangest, widest-reaching, and most damaging moral panics in America’s history: the satanic ritual abuse panic of the 1980s and 1990s.

"That was literally a witch hunt," said Keith Hampton, pro-bono lawyer for the Kellers. "We say ‘witch hunt’ in this figurative way, but that was a modern-day literal witch hunt. They really were after people who they thought were worshipping at the feet of the Dark Lord."

So what the hell happened?

The Keller case is typical of the satanic ritual abuse panic and the dozens of cases that popped up in breathless media reports. The trouble started when Christy Chaviers, a 3-year-old girl who was an infrequent visitor to the day care during the summer of 1991, told her mother that Dan had spanked her. With coaxing from her mother and her therapist, Donna David-Campbell, whom Christy had been seeing to deal with acting-out issues, an incident of spanking turned into something much worse—Dan Keller, the little girl said, had defecated on her head and raped her with a pen. From there, the stories Christy told David-Campbell became wilder: The Kellers "had everyone take off their clothes and had a parrot that pecked them in the pee-pee," they made her smoke a cigarette, they "came to her house with a chainsaw and cut her dog Buffy in the vagina until it bled." David-Campbell concluded not that Christy was an imaginative child having trouble with her parents’ divorce, but that she was the victim of ritual abuse.

The case was turned over to the police. Parents of children who’d attended the preschool, however, continued to talk to one another and their children. In October, another child, also a therapy client of David-Campbell, told his parents that he’d been abused; a third child, whose mother was in contact with the parents of the other two, came forward in February 1992. By the time of the trial in November 1992, the stories included the killing of a baby tiger in a graveyard, a person being shot by people in sheriff’s uniforms and then dismembered with a chainsaw, videotaped sex with adults and other children, and the Kellers wearing white robes and lighting candles to assault them. No other children, including those children who were supposedly the targets of abuse, or their parents confirmed the accounts. When put on the witness stand, Christy, by then 5, was at first unwilling to say anything had happened at all, then did, then recanted. Friends and acquaintances of the Kellers, including their landlord, who frequently dropped by unannounced, testified that they’d never seen anything out of the ordinary at the Kellers’ day care.

As with previous panics, the dangers may have been imaginary, but the consequences were not.

Why did psychotherapists and investigators conclude that these fantastic allegations were true? Because at the time, pretty much everyone else in America did.

The seeds of the panic were planted with the 1980 publication of Michelle Remembers, the best-selling account of a Canadian psychotherapist’s work with a woman named Michelle Smith, who, under his care, began recalling forgotten memories of horrific childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her mother and others who were part of a devil-worshipping cult. The book, though riddled with fantastical claims (for example, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the Archangel Michael healed Smith’s physical scars), launched a cottage industry in recovering memories of satanic ritual abuse. (The psychotherapist and Smith later married.)

The panic began in earnest with the McMartin Preschool trial, an investigation that began 30 years ago. The owners of a California preschool and several teachers were accused of molesting a 2½-year-old boy; before it was over, hundreds of children, usually after lengthy sessions with coercive therapists, came forward to say that they, too, had been taken to a church to watch the beheading of a baby, then forced to drink its blood or flown by plane to random cities for sexual abuse, or countless other bizarre stories.

While that investigation and trial unfolded, other cases surfaced. Media poured attention on the claims, which made great fodder for a newly created 24-hour news cycle (CNN Headline News launched in 1982). As televangelists prayed for deliverance from Satan’s scourge, talk show "experts" claimed that every imaginable form of abuse was happening on a massive scale in America and that networks of Satanists had infiltrated schools, the police, and local government. Geraldo Rivera claimed in a televised 1987 special report that more than a million Satanists were plying their evil trade in America right at the very moment. (He has since apologized.) In 1989, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Michelle Smith and another woman who claimed to have recovered memories of being abused by a satanic cult; Sally Jesse Raphael, not to be outdone, ran two shows on the subject. In 1990, Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child’s Book About Satanic Ritual Abuse, a children’s picture book featuring colored-pencil drawings of children being abused in satanic rituals, appeared in libraries and therapists’ offices. In 1992, folk singer Joan Baez released "Play Me Backwards," a song in the voice of a victim of satanic ritual abuse who was forced to witness the sacrifice of a baby and is now recollecting her repressed memories.

"It sounds laughable," says Debbie Nathan, an investigative reporter who co-wrote Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt about the panic and is now a director for the National Center for Reason and Justice, which took up the Kellers’ cause. But there is certainly historical precedent, going back even further than the Salem witch trials: Ancient Romans, for example, claimed that Christians ate babies; Christians later claimed that Jews used Christian babies’ blood in religious rituals.

"Children symbolize the good things about culture, the innocence and purity, the future of the culture," says Nathan. When a culture feels under threat in some way, fear and anxiety focus on the safety of children. America was experiencing upheavals in gender roles, child-rearing practices, and social expectations, and more and more people were embracing fundamentalist religion and belief in the devil. The fear of satanic ritual abuse was perpetuated by both ends of the political spectrum. "In the right wing, you had that kind of preoccupation with Satan, and on the left, you had a lot of concern with the well-being of children, and women going back to work, and I think it was a perfect storm of fear and anxiety," says Nathan. Most if not all of those involved believed they were acting in the best interests of the children—which meant that any healthy skepticism was interpreted as anti-child.

But extensive investigations revealed little to no truth to the satanic ritual abuse panic. The McMartin Preschool trial ended in 1990 with no convictions, even after the government threw more than $15 million at prosecuting it. In 1992, FBI agent Kenneth Lanning, in his report on satanic ritual abuse, declared that satanic ritual abuse wasn’t credible: "Hundreds of communities all over America are run by mayors, police departments, and community leaders who are practicing Satanists and who regularly murder and eat people? Not likely." Two years later, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, under the federal Department of Health and Human Services, released a report claiming that there was no evidence of truth in satanic ritual abuse claims. Even so, people still believed: A Redbook magazine survey conducted in 1994 found that fully 70 percent of Americans believed that satanic ritual abuse was real.

As with previous panics, the dangers may have been imaginary, but the consequences were not. The real toll of the satanic ritual abuse panic was on the children dragged into it and accused people like the Kellers, who numbered in the hundreds by the end of the decade. (In 1993, a survey by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law found that 26 percent of prosecutors reported handling at least one case with elements of alleged ritual abuse.)

Satanic ritual abuse was the thread that wound through the Kellers’ trial. Therapist David-Campbell testified for the prosecution that Christy’s acting out was consistent with children abused by satanic cults and that she believed Christy was telling the truth. A ritual abuse "expert," clinical psychologist Randy Noblitt, testified that satanic cults are real, that they are widespread, and that he too believed Christy, despite not having interviewed her. (As Hampton, the Kellers’ attorney, wrote in Fran Keller’s appeal, "In 2003, Noblitt was featured on ABC’s Primetime having a conversation with Satan who, Noblitt agreed, was actually a pretty nice guy, notwithstanding, of course, his role as the dark lord of evil. No court and no jury should ever rely on the testimony of Dr. Noblitt.") In addition, the jury heard evidence that local graveyards had been "disturbed," consistent with the children’s claims of impromptu exhumations, although the jury never heard that those disruptions included natural soil erosion.

Scott Taliaferro, assistant district attorney for Travis County, says that the prosecution’s case didn’t rest on satanic claims but on child abuse claims. He also says that the defense repeatedly raised the issue of satanic ritual abuse, likely in an effort to cast doubt on the claims of sex abuse in general. "This is a case where the state alleged aggravated sexual assault of a child … the ritual abuse in question wasn’t elicited by the state; it was the defense. All of that is in large part extraneous to the allegation of sexual abuse," said Taliaferro, who spoke with me before Fran Keller was released; he and the DA’s office have since declined to discuss the matter. But Hampton, the Kellers’ attorney, disagrees: Common sense and level-headed investigation would have found Christy’s claims incredible if satanic ritual abuse panic hadn’t lent a "distorted lens of hysteria" to the picture.

The methods used by forensic investigators to elicit stories of abuse from the children were taken straight from the ritual abuse panic playbook. University of Texas at El Paso psychologist James Wood, who has written about the suggestive interviewing techniques used in the McMartin trial, for a 1993 episode of American Justice viewed videos of investigators from the Travis County Sheriff’s Department interviewing the young children who made claims against the Kellers.

I have also seen the videos, seven in all, provided by sources close to the Keller case. At first glance, the videos look familiar for anyone who’s a parent of a young child: Christy is 3 years old, and it’s difficult to get her to sit still or remain on the chair or even in the room. Asking her basic questions is even harder: In one video, Christy turns her face petulantly into the back of the chair and says, "No, I’m not gonna talk!"

It becomes more uncomfortable to watch once the anatomically correct dolls, floppy rag dolls with floppy rag-doll genitalia, come out. The interviewer, armed with the now nude dolls, asks Christy to show her what "Danny" (Dan Keller) did to her at the day care. Christy is unwilling. "You tell me," Christy says. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to claim that in a way, Travis County forensic investigators and well-meaning therapists did.

In this particular segment, Christy’s interviewer first calls attention to the dolls’ genitalia and then says, "Show me what happened at the day care"—implying both that something did happen and that the interviewer knows what happened involved genitalia. Then the interviewer asks if there’s a boy or a man at day care, leading Christy to say "Danny." Handing her the doll, she says, "Show me what Danny does at the day care to Christy." In an interview with another investigator present, the woman tells Christy, "I think you forgot to tell us about some things that happened … about some stuff that you have to talk to me about that you told [therapist David-Campbell]."

Another child who was interviewed, a 5-year-old boy, is much more willing to talk, so willing, in fact, it’s strange. When the interviewer asks him what they’re here to talk about, he says matter-of-factly, "Yeah, Fran and Dan." "What is it about Fran and Danny we need to talk about?" the interviewer asks. "The things that they did wrong … at the time, we didn’t know that those things were wrong, but they were." But even though he’s had some preparation, it’s impossible for the interviewer to get him to say that anything sexual had happened—no matter how much she tries.

"Does anybody touch your privates?"


"Has anybody wanted you to touch their privates?"



"Are you telling me what really happened over at Fran and Danny’s house?"


"Are you forgetting to tell me some stuff that happened?"

"Only the things I forgot."

"What are those things?"

"I can’t remember!"

"Did anybody tell you not to remember?"

The implication is that the child isn’t telling the full story, that he needs to keep trying until he gets it right—the kind of dynamic that Nathan, Wood, and others say enables children to come up with some of the strange allegations. In this case, the interviewer is steering the conversation toward something physical; the boy brings up things like Dan falling asleep in the toy room or allowing the children to ride on the riding mower, or that he heard that Dan shot a pit bull. Eventually, she says, "Would it be easier if you showed me what happened with the dolls?" later adding, "Remember we looked at the doll’s penis; did anything happen with a penis?" When he says no, it’s evident that she doesn’t believe him.

These kinds of suggestive techniques were used throughout the questioning of the children in the Keller case, as they were in other satanic ritual abuse trials; by the time of the trial, allegations that emerged under questioning like this would form the basis of the prosecution’s claims.

Assistant DA Taliaferro is right in pointing out that the Keller convictions weren’t entirely about believing in satanic ritual abuse. They also relied on another piece of fantasy: the alleged physical evidence. This, too, was consistent with other satanic ritual abuse cases, where inaccurate physical evidence frequently played a major part in convincing otherwise skeptical juries.

Michael Mouw was the emergency-room doctor who examined Christy Chaviers after she told her mother that Dan Keller had abused her. Mouw testified during the trial that Christy’s labia minora and hymen had appeared reddened and that he had observed some lacerations to the hymen. Those lacerations, he said at the time, were consistent with sexual abuse. Mouw’s testimony was then taken as corroborating evidence that Christy had indeed been abused.

Except his observations weren't evidence of abuse at all. Mouw has since recanted his testimony, declaring that he knew soon after the trial that his conclusion was inaccurate and "not scientifically or medically valid." At the time he examined her, he said during a hearing about the Kellers’ appeal in August, he was an inexperienced emergency-room doctor who had little direct experience with or training to handle pediatric sexual abuse cases; subsequent research showed Christy’s "lacerations" were simply a natural formation of her genitalia. (Echoes of this junk science evidence are heard in the case of the San Antonio Four, four lesbians who were convicted and imprisoned for more than 15 years for the alleged sexual abuse of two young girls.)

And that was what finally freed the Kellers—that and the attention paid to the case by dogged Austin Chronicle reporter Jordan Smith, attorney Hampton’s efforts, and the support from the psychology community in Texas. Travis County District Attorney Lehmberg agreed that Mouw’s testimony had likely "affected the judgment of the jury" and violated the Kellers’ right to a fair trial; she agreed that the Kellers should be freed on bond.

More here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here