Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mother accused of leaving her daughter with Down's Syndrome unattended for 45 minutes wins £20,000 damages after suing police for wrongful arrest

The police thing concerned

A mother who successfully sued Cleveland Police for false arrest after being handcuffed in front of her Down's Syndrome daughter has been awarded £20,000 in damages.

Valerie Cadman-Khan, 55, a mother-of-five from Stainton, in Middlesborough, was arrested for allegedly leaving her then 12-year-old daughter Aimee unsupervised in a garden for 45 minutes.

But Middlesbrough County Court heard Detective Sergeant Colin Helyer lied to the local authority to justify arresting Mrs Cadman-Khan.

The court heard Detective Sergeant Helyer, 'provided false information to Middlesbrough Council's child abuse investigation unit' - and then attempted to mislead a court with what a judge branded 'freestyle lying'.

After winning her case earlier this year, Mrs Cadman-Khan, a qualified teacher, has now been awarded £20,000 in damages - but said today that the case was 'never about the money'. 'All I ever wanted was to clear my name,' she said. 'I would not give up until that was done.

'Aimee was traumatised by this, she slept in our room for two years after that and still sleeps with the light on. 'As I was led away that day, all I could hear was her screaming: "I want my mum, I want my mum!"

'He tried to put a case against me that I was an unfit mother, but if I'm good at anything, I'm a good mother. This child is my life.'

A dispute with bailiffs over an unpaid council tax bill led to police visiting the Middlesbrough home of Mrs Cadman-Khan's ex-husband on the morning of November 13, 2008.

Judge Gillian Matthews QC said Sgt Helyer's actions that day 'were completely disproportionate'. 'I completely understand that policing can be a difficult and dangerous job,' she said. 'This however was not one of those days.

'If Sgt Helyer could not cope with this lady, who was clearly rushing out to attend upon her child as he had requested, without applying handcuffs, I do not know how he would deal with a crowd of drunks on Saturday night.'

'He lied about the reason and the nature of the arrest and the need to use handcuffs to this court.'

She added that Sgt Helyer's actions that day were 'not just ill advised and disproportionate but arbitrary, high-handed, intimidating and oppressive.'

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Spittal said: 'I have offered my sincere apologies to Mrs Cadman-Khan and for the upset that has been caused to her and her family.

'Police officers are trained to deal with difficult situations calmly and to react in a reasonable and proportionate manner. It is clear that this did not happen in Mrs Cadman-Khan's case.

'I have read the judgment with great care and we are taking active steps to ensure we learn from the mistakes which were made, so that similar incidents don't happen in the future.

'The judgment has been provided to our professional standards department to determine whether any formal action will be taken against the officer in line with police conduct regulations.'

Mrs Cadman-Khan is now demanding a face-to-face meeting with the chief constable and Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger. She said: 'I want them to explain how Cleveland Police had the audacity to waste public funds in attempting to defend this case.'

Original report here

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