Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nasty British cops

Thrown in the cells for beeping at a police car! Driver handcuffed and DNA-tested... then faces six-month legal ordeal

When the car in front is driving you mad, a short sharp beep on the horn is sometimes irresistible. But Paul Samara will be thinking twice before doing that again.

After sounding his horn at a police van which was moving slowly and repeatedly braking in front of him, he was handcuffed, thrown into a cell, and had his fingerprints, DNA and mugshot taken.

The 34-year-old train driver, who has never been in trouble with the police in his life, was accused of abusive and threatening behaviour and charged with a public order offence.

The incident led to a six-month ordeal with the threat of a conviction hanging over his head until the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop the case just before he was due to face magistrates.

While Mr Samara is relieved at the outcome, he is appalled at the way he was treated and has lost all faith in the police. ‘They were very heavy handed,’ he said.

‘I’ve never been into a police station before that night, let alone a cell, so to have my fingerprints taken and to be charged for something I hadn’t done was very upsetting.

‘For six months I was worried I would end up with a criminal conviction, that it would affect my chances of getting a job and ultimately my livelihood – it made me anxious and ill.

‘The police officers were obviously annoyed and determined that I would spend a night in the cells. They acted like bullies.’

Mr Samara, who has a partner, a five-year-old step-daughter and a baby on the way, was driving home to Blackburn after finishing his shift at Blackpool railway station at 11pm when the drama unfolded in May this year.

He had pulled behind the police van, which was driving slowly through a Blackpool street, when it stopped suddenly several times, causing him to brake sharply.

Each time, Mr Samara said, he beeped his horn instinctively. ‘For a train driver, especially because we have no brake, using the horn if there is danger is just a natural thing to do,’ he said.

On the last occasion the van stopped and a policewoman got out and challenged him. ‘I didn’t shout or swear or wind my window down, but I did tell her the manner of her driving had caused me to slam on the brakes,’ Mr Samara said.

He said the policewoman told him she was out looking for a missing child. She was upset about his attitude and told him: ‘When you have a problem don’t come to us as we won’t want to know.’ Mr Samara told her he was going to make a complaint about her.

Then her male colleague joined her, ordered him out of his car and handcuffed him. Mr Samara was arrested and taken to the police station where he was left in the cells for two hours and eventually charged.

He appeared at a preliminary court hearing but prosecutors dropped the case last month after CCTV obtained from the police station contradicted the officer’s evidence that he was threatening and abusive.

At one point she admitted that she had lost her temper with him.

Last night his solicitor, Mark Ellis, of James Murray Solicitors, said the case should never have come to court. ‘Mr Samara was simply trying to make his way home when he ran into these police officers who took umbrage at him for sounding his car horn,’ he said.

‘The CCTV we obtained clearly contradicts their account that he was shouting and being threatening. Despite this, the CPS seemed determined to take the case to court and it wasn’t until a week before the trial – after six months of anxiety for Mr Samara – they realised there was no case.’

A CPS spokesman said the decision to bring a charge had been made by Lancashire police. He said the case was reviewed, as is normal, and the CPS decided there was ‘not a realistic prospect of a conviction’.

A spokesman for Lancashire police declined to comment.

Mr Samara said: ‘I’m just relieved it’s all over and life can go back to some sort of normality.’

Original report here

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