Saturday, April 30, 2016

UK: Married ex-cop who 'deliberately and repeatedly' abused his position by visiting three prostitutes while on duty avoids jail

A married ex-police officer who 'deliberately and repeatedly' abused his position by turning up at the homes of three prostitutes while he was on duty has avoided jail.

Darren Bromley, 40, used Greater Manchester Police resources to track down the sex workers before trying to 'get into the lives and homes'.

The court was told how Bromley first came across the women in Manchester city centre before making contact with them during shifts under the pretence that he was carrying out investigations.

In a bid to distract himself from marital problems, he phoned one women nearly 30 times, while telling another that he would arrest her unless she 'kept him sweet'.

The former officer - described as 'family orientated' - persisted in his behaviour in the belief that the women would not complain because of their 'lifestyle', the court was told.

But he was caught when social workers saw him turning up at one of the women's homes in his police uniform and asked the woman about his bizarre behaviour.

The former officer has now been sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to three counts of misconduct in a public office.

Passing sentence, Judge Clement Goldstone QC said Bromley 'shattered' the women's trust.  He said: 'You deliberately and repeatedly abused your position as a serving police officer. 'You shattered their trust in the police. By your conduct, you brought the reputation of your colleagues and GMP into disrepute.

'When your marriage got into difficulties you used the opportunity of contact with street workers as a way to resolve your domestic difficulties.'

Liverpool Crown Court was told how Bromley, who joined the force in 2001, met the women in the Piccadilly area of Manchester where he approached them in his police vehicle before asking for their names and addresses. He then accessed and viewed their police records including custody and intelligence records.

After that, Bromley, from Middleton, Greater Manchester, continued to manipulate the force systems to track down information about the women, before turning up at their homes unannounced.

The court was told that there was no 'sexual or physical contact' and that he was 'unable to articulate his intentions' when visiting at the addresses.

But he covered his tracks by telling bosses he was dealing with an incident that involved looking for a male suspect.

The married officer, whose 22-year-long relationship has since broken down, was said to have been a 'well regarded' officer in the force and did not fall under suspicion until he was rumbled by social workers.

Miss Anya Horwood, for the prosecution, said: 'The prosecution take the view the real mischief that this defendant has committed, is he has spent his time when being paid by the public, using the computer and various police radios to contact these complainants, one of them 28 times by telephone.

'There were no legitimate policing purposes involved. He is unable to articulate his intentions but accepts contemplating formulating a relationship.'

The court was told that the women had been fearful that he may arrest them.

Referring to a ten-minute visit which Bromley made to a second woman, Miss Horward said: 'He told her his name was Paul. She felt she should, in her words, "keep him sweet" because he might arrest her.'

The court was told how Bromley, who approached one of the women in the city's red light district, also made 28 calls to one of the women. Miss Horwood added: 'She said that he complained when she didn't answer telephone calls and was fearful that he would arrest her.

'She said he would park his car a short distance away, when he was with her his police radio would ring on a regular basis and he would ignore these calls.'

When Bromley was caught in 2014, the court heard that he seemed 'surprised' and told them he was making inquiries relating to trouble with youngsters.

Miss Horwood said: 'After the defendant left she (complainant) explained to the social workers about the defendant's behaviour and regular attendances at her home.  'All of the visits were during his hours of duty. Because of what she told police, investigations continued. They revealed visits to the home addresses of two other sex workers. These again when on duty and no legitimate purposes.'

The court was read extracts from the complainants' Victim Personal Statements which detailed how the former police officer's offending had impacted upon them. One woman, who suffered with mental health issues, said she had taken an overdose of drugs and alcohol.  The woman spoke of her vulnerability, adding that she later realised the officer abused his position and took advantage of her.

She said that as a result of Bromley's offending she felt unable to trust the police and was unable to settle at home if she saw or heard a police car near her home.

Another said that she had been concerned that she would not be believed.

The third added that Bromley would turn up at her address without any warning and spoke of his 'arrogance'.

Defending, his barrister Lisa Roberts QC said Bromley had done the right thing by resigning.

She said that, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, officers refuse to go, adding: 'He could have taken that path - he did not.

She added that he 'had lost his good name in the profession that he loved' and was a man 'incapable of articulating what was his motivation in contacting these women other than he was lonely at the time, he sought some form of solace and contact with them'.

After the hearing, chief superintendent Annette Anderson, head of GMP's Professional Standards Branch, said Bromley's 'inexcusable actions' fell well below the expected standards of professional behaviour.

She said: 'He let everyone down, both those that the police are there to protect and those who work selflessly to deliver policing across Greater Manchester.  'Our role is to uphold the law and to protect our communities.

'It is my hope that the thorough investigation and the outcome in this case sends out a clear message that we will not accept anything but the highest of standards from all of our officers.'

Bromley was ordered £2,500 towards prosecution costs and complete 200 hours' unpaid work.

Original report here

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Friday, April 29, 2016

'Now put the cops on trial': Hillsborough families call for criminal charges after inquest jury rules 96 football fans WERE unlawfully killed in stadium tragedy

The families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster have called on authorities to bring criminals proceedings against those responsible for their loved ones' deaths.

A jury in fresh inquests into the deaths today found a series of failures by police and authorities caused the 1989 stadium tragedy - and concluded the supporters were not to blame for what happened.

Relatives of those who perished in the disaster sobbed and held hands as an inquests jury exonerated the supporters and at last held police to account for their errors and the extraordinary cover-up which followed.

The Crown Prosecution Service has said it will consider the results of a police investigation into the handling of the disaster and what followed, as well a probe by the police watchdog, the IPCC.

Two investigations into potential wrongdoing are due to conclude by the end of the year, but lawyers representing the Hillsborough Justice Campaign urged authorities to bring criminal proceedings as quickly as possible.

He said: 'There is still a long road to travel – the recent investigations have already taken three years and we therefore now urge the authorities to conduct rigorous and speedy investigations which will lead to criminal and disciplinary proceedings and to the attribution of final and full accountability.'

The jury's findings present a damning indictment of the way the match was organised and managed - and the failures of emergency services to respond after the disaster unfolded.

The jury - who have listened to more than 1,000 witnesses during two years of evidence - found that:

Police caused the crush on the terrace when the order was given to open the exit gates in Leppings Lane, allowing fans in the street to enter the stadium.

Commanding officers should have ordered the closure of a central tunnel onto the terraces before the gates were opened.

The police response to the increasing crowds in the Leppings Lane end was 'slow and un-coordinated'. Ambulance service errors also contributed to the loss of lives.

Features of the design, construction and layout of the stadium considered to be dangerous contributed to the disaster. The safety certification also played a part.

Sheffield Wednesday's then consultant engineers, Eastwood & Partners, should have done more to detect and advise unsafe features of the stadium which contributed to the disaster.

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton said his force 'unequivocally' accepts the verdict of unlawful killing and the wider findings reached by the jury.

He said: 'On April 15 1989, South Yorkshire Police got the policing of the FA cup semi-final at Hillsborough catastrophically wrong. It was and still is the biggest disaster in British sporting history... the force failed the victims and failed their families. Today, as I have said before, I want to apologise unreservedly to the families and all those affected.'

Chief Constable Crompton said improvements to stadium safety and policing since the tragedy meant it was 'almost impossible' the disaster could be repeated.

The jurors in the case had been told they could only reach a determination of unlawful killing if they were sure commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to those attending the game - and that he was in breach of that duty of care.

The jury were told they also needed to be satisfied that his breach of duty caused the deaths and that it amounted to 'gross negligence'. The jury concluded that this was the case and it was therefore unlawful killing. The gave the decision by a 7-2 majority.

A police probe is now looking at the lead-up to the tragedy and the day of the doomed match itself, and a separate inquiry by watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the alleged cover-up afterwards.

Both the police team and the IPCC will submit files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) if there is enough evidence for potential prosecutions.

Sue Hemming, Head of the Special Crime at the CPS, said: 'Following the inquests' determinations the CPS team will continue to work closely with [police] and the IPCC as in due course the CPS will formally consider whether any criminal charges should be brought against any individual or corporate body based upon all the available evidence.'

Police have not named any suspects, but eight former officers were represented by lawyers at the inquests and what they said in the witness box forms part of the criminal inquiry.

Any prosecution of match commander David Duckenfield must first overturn the stay on future proceedings against him.

Some of the victims' families cheered when the conclusions were returned, others put their head in their hands. Someone in court shouted 'God bless the jury', who after two years considering the evidence were clapped as they left the room.

Reporters who were inside the courtroom said that a party atmosphere broke out in the corridors outside after the verdicts were delivered, with ecstatic relatives embracing and kissing each other - but everyone crying, weeping tears of joy and relief.

Leading Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the disaster, said she was immensely grateful to the people of Liverpool for backing the fight for justice.

She told reporters: 'Everything was against us. The only people that weren't against us was our own city. That's why I am so grateful to my city and so proud of my city. They always believed in us.'

Surrounded by a sea of camera crews and reporters outside the court, Ms Aspinall added: 'I think we have changed a part of history now - I think that's the legacy the 96 have left.'


Two huge criminal investigations into the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath could finish by the end of the year.

A police probe is looking at the lead-up to the tragedy and the day of the doomed match itself, and a separate inquiry by watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) - the biggest in its history - is investigating the alleged cover-up afterwards.

Hundreds of investigators have worked on both inquiries.

A raft of individuals and organisations could be charged with criminal offences that may include gross negligence manslaughter, misconduct in a public office, perverting the course of justice, perjury, or health and safety breaches.

Police have not named any suspects, but at least eight former officers could face action, including David Duckenfield.

Organisations that could face prosecution include Sheffield Wednesday FC, who hosted the game, Sheffield City Council, which issued the ground's safety certificate, and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which was involved in the emergency response.

The Football Association is also subject to investigation.

Both the police inquiry, Operation Resolve, and the IPCC inquiry are expected to finish in December or January, and once files are passed to prosecutors a decision on charges by the CPS is expected to follow within three to six months.

Home Secretary Theresa May is due to give the Government's response to the inquest jury's unlawful killing finding in an oral statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

In a statement, Mr Cameron said: 'Today is a landmark moment in the quest for justice for the 96 Liverpool fans who died on that dreadful day in April 1989.

'It is also a long overdue day. The bereaved families and survivors of the Hillsborough disaster have had to wait 27 long years for the full facts of what happened and it is only due to their tireless bravery in pursuing the truth that we arrived at this momentous verdict.

'All families and survivors now have official confirmation of what they always knew was the case - that the Liverpool fans were utterly blameless in the disaster that unfolded at Hillsborough.'

Families of children killed in the tragedy typically received only £3,500. Some of the bereaved say they received as little as £1,000.

Despite today's verdicts - and the fact that some traumatised police officers received 30 times more than victims' families - it is unlikely they will receive any more damages.

Margaret Aspinall has criticised the fact that grieving families had to fund their own legal action - and even pay for the death certificate from the original inquest - while the police had all of their legal fees funded for them.

Coroner Sir John Goldring conceded the Hillsborough hearing had 'not been entirely easy' for anyone, adding that 'sitting on a jury for this length of time in such a demanding and at times deeply moving case is to perform a public service of the highest order'.

One juror had sat for more than two years but just one day after the jury had retired to consider their verdicts, she had rowed with the nine others on the panel, declining to sit with them any longer.

The juror was discharged and the jury panel continued with the remaining nine.

The cost of the Hillsborough inquests and the two major linked and ongoing police investigations is running at more than £116 million and rising.

Publicly-funded court running costs during the inquests amount to around £36.9 million - while the costs for the two current criminal investigations associated with the disaster will be approaching around £80million by the end of this year.

Six public bodies, eight former police officers, the current Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police and the families of the 96 have been represented by lawyers at the inquests and the costs have all been met by the public purse.

The 1991 accidental deaths verdicts from the original inquests were quashed following the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel report after a long campaign by the families of the dead.

Original report here

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cleveland reaches $6m settlement in Tamir Rice case

I don't see that there was any legal liability.  The kid was stupid and the cop acted reponsibly in response to apparent imminent danger.  This settlement is just political

The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy whose fatal shooting by a Cleveland police officer in 2014 prompted national outrage, is set to receive $6 million from the city in a settlement announced Monday in federal court records.

The settlement, which would be the latest in a series of seven-figure payouts by major US cities to the families of African-Americans who died at the hands of officers, spares Cleveland the possibility of a federal civil rights trial that could have brought new attention to Tamir’s death and to the city’s troubled police force. It also allows the city to avoid the possibility of an even larger judgment.

The agreement, which is in line with settlements in the deaths of Eric Garner in New York City and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, must still be approved by a probate court. Under the terms of the settlement, Cleveland does not admit wrongdoing. Lawyers for the Rice family had been meeting with city officials to discuss a settlement since early last month.

For the Rice family, which had called for criminal charges against the rookie officer who opened fire almost immediately after encountering Tamir on Nov. 22, 2014, the settlement means an end to civil proceedings. But it does nothing to change the decision by a Cuyahoga County grand jury last year to not indict the officer, Timothy Loehmann.

Lawyers for Tamir’s estate said Monday that “no amount of money can adequately compensate” the boy’s relatives for their grief.

“In a situation like this, there’s no such thing as closure or justice,” the lawyers, Jonathan S. Abady and Earl S. Ward, said in a statement. “Nothing will bring Tamir back. His unnecessary and premature death leaves a gaping hole for those who knew and loved him that can never be filled.”

Mayor Frank G. Jackson of Cleveland said Monday that the situation was “not easy for me personally or the city in general,” but that the settlement “protected the rights of the city and its taxpayers.”

“At the end of the day, a 12-year-old child lost their life, and that should not have happened in the city of Cleveland,” he said. “It should not have happened.”

Tamir had been carrying a realistic-looking pellet gun near a recreation center when someone called 911 to report him. The caller cautioned that Tamir was “probably a juvenile” and that the weapon was “probably fake,” but those qualifications were not relayed to the responding officers, who were told only of a report of a male with a weapon.

Moments later, as grainy surveillance footage showed, a squad car drove over a curb and through snow-dotted grass before sliding to a halt within a few feet of Tamir. Loehmann, who said later that he had feared for his life and had seen Tamir reaching for his waistband, stepped out of the cruiser and quickly shot the boy.

Tamir’s shooting, which happened two days before a grand jury in Missouri declined to charge the Ferguson officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an African-American 18-year-old, also occurred amid a wave of new attention on use of force by the police and set off protests in Cleveland.

From the outset, activists, the leader of the local police union and Jackson agreed that Tamir’s death was tragic. But the city was deeply divided on whether Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, who was driving the cruiser, had committed crimes, or had been justified given what they knew at the time.

As the case made national headlines, it was revealed that Loehmann had resigned from another Ohio police department after a “dangerous loss of composure” during weapons training. Many questioned his decision to fire quickly, as well as the tactics of Garmback, who did not shoot but whose fast approach left his partner little time to assess the situation.

Tensions escalated when Cleveland filed a response to the lawsuit that seemed to blame Tamir for his death, prompting an apology from the mayor and a revised filing.

Then, in February, Cleveland moved to sue the Rice family for $500 to cover Tamir’s emergency medical treatment but quickly reversed course after a public backlash.

The investigation of Tamir’s death stretched over 13 months and was handed from agency to agency, frustrating activists who saw it as a clear-cut case of police misconduct. Finally, in a hastily organized news conference during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the county prosecutor, Timothy J. McGinty, announced that grand jurors had declined to charge the officers.

By that point, McGinty had been widely criticized for his approach to the case. In what he said was an effort at transparency, McGinty released investigative documents on a piecemeal basis before the grand jury’s decision, including reports from outside experts he had hired who found the shooting justified.

The Rice family called for McGinty to recuse himself and hired its own experts, who found the shooting unreasonable.

Original report here

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

UK: Police union fat cat in £1m fraud probe

A Police Federation ‘fat cat’ arrested over an alleged £1.15million fraud has been evicted from his grace and favour apartment at the union’s luxury HQ. Will Riches, 41, was booted out after quitting as vice chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales last month.

Sources said the tattooed officer was no longer entitled to live at the two-bedroom flat at the organisation’s £26million base in Leatherhead, Surrey. His apartment was one of a number of perks enjoyed by the constable, who is employed by the Metropolitan Police.

Riches, who drives a £45,000 Mercedes CLS 250 and is renowned in police circles for his fondness for fine wine and expensive restaurants such as The Ivy, was served with a notice last month requiring him to leave the flat by Tuesday. He is now living back at his marital home in Essex.

Days after resigning as vice chairman last month he was one of four men – three serving policemen and a retired officer – detained over claims of financial impropriety at the Federation.

Watchdog officials are probing the legality of an alleged transfer of £1.15million from the scandal-hit union to a charitable account last August.

The inquiry was launched two years after the Federation was engulfed in a series of controversies including disclosures over offshore bank accounts, lavish spending and alleged bullying.

In April 2014, two senior officials quit after the Mail revealed the union had hired a PR firm to mastermind a ‘guerrilla’ campaign against government plans for reform.

There were also questions over the union’s role in the Plebgate affair, which concerned an altercation between then-chief whip Andrew Mitchell and police officers at the gates of Downing Street.

Riches, nicknamed ‘Bungalow’, quit as vice chairman on March 16 – two days before detectives prepared to make arrests.

He has not been suspended by the Met and remains on full pay. According to sources he denies any wrongdoing and is determined to clear his name.

All four suspects remain on bail while an investigation is carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into a ‘start-up’ payment to the Peelers Charitable Foundation, which was set up last July to support officers in need. Last night the IPCC promised a ‘thorough’ investigation into the fraud claims.

The union’s stockbroker belt HQ, built in one of the country’s most expensive locations, contains a gym, swimming pool, restaurant and ten ‘grace and favour’ flats together worth nearly £3million. There is also a hotel for use by visiting officers and their families.

Confirming that Riches had left his apartment, a Federation spokesman said: ‘Will Riches had the use of a flat in his role as vice-chair and when he resigned from this position he no longer retained right to that property and he left on 19 April.’

The organisation also said it is ‘determined’ to carry out reforms, including the ways in which it deals with ‘some financial matters’.

At Riches’ £400,000 detached home in Essex, his wife Eleanor said he was not available for comment.

Riches’ basic salary of about £38,000 a year is paid by Scotland Yard but as a senior Federation official he would have been entitled to a ‘salary enhancement’ of up to £54,420 as well as a generous mileage allowance. Although no longer vice chairman of the union, he remains on the powerful constables’ central committee.

Riches, a constable in the Met since 1995, first won election to the committee in 2009 and became vice-chairman of the Federation in 2014. In that year, an independent review of the Federation found it had around £95million in reserves and assets.

An estimated £30million of it was held in separate accounts, details of which were not given to the national heads of the organisation.

Original report here

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

'I've been VICTIM SHAMED by the police'

Lily Allen has accused the police of 'victim-shaming' her after she spoke out about being dissatisfied with their response to her seven-year stalking ordeal.

The singer, who was stalked by Alex Gray, 31, detailed how he had burst into her home while she and her children were sleeping.

He also allegedly threatened to stab her through the face and spent nights hiding in her garden.

The singer read out an email from a Met officer who said that the 'high-profile' nature of her claims could discourage other victims from coming forward.

'I think it's victim-shaming and victim-blaming,' she told BBC Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark.

She also claimed investigators had treated her as a 'nuisance rather than a victim', had destroyed evidence that supported her case, taken away a panic alarm after a few months and even refused to allow her to see and then keep a photo of her stalker.

She added that she would 'not be safe' until Gray received the support he needed for his 'mental illness'.

After the interview, the mother-of-two said she received an email from a Met officer wanting to 'understand what - if anything - went wrong during the investigation' while suggesting Allen's response would dissuade other victims from reporting stalkers.

It read: 'As you know there have been press reports suggesting you were dissatisfied with the response you received.

'Further, due to the high-profile of this matter, I fear other victims of similar crimes have read the story and now may not have the confidence in us to support such matters.

'As such, it is really important I can understand what - if anything -went wrong during the investigation.

'I was saddened to hear of this report, I would like to heard your views on what we could do better.'

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said they take stalking and harassment 'extremely seriously'.

The news comes as the mother of the stalker revealed how she tried to get him sectioned despite psychiatrists claiming there was nothing wrong with him.

Gray, from Perth, Scotland, is currently in jail awaiting sentencing for burglary and harassment after forcing his way into the singer's home while she and her children slept.

Now the stalker's mother Michelle Gray has told how she has failed to have her son detained under mental health laws - adding that police, social services and the NHS have been unable to help him.

Speaking from the laundrette she runs in Benidorm, Ms Gray said: 'I've been trying to get Alex help for 20 years and at every corner I've been told I'm paranoid.

'He had psychiatrists at school saying nothing was wrong with him. I've tried sectioning him a couple of years ago but I'm not allowed because I live in Spain.

'They wouldn't section him until they spoke to him first. He came out of a mental hospital down south and they phoned his sister and asked her if she would take charge of him for Christmas.

'Up to this point they had been forcing him to have injections for his psychological medication because Alex doesn't believe anything is wrong with him because he has got an illness.

'But when he promised he'd take his medication they released him. This was Christmas 2014. He should have been in a specialist unit getting help and medication. He shouldn't have been let out.'

Allen, 30, was first targeted in 2009 on Twitter by user @lilyallenRIP who repeatedly claimed to have written hit song 'The Fear' – and it later emerged Gray was behind the account.

He sent abusive rants, accusations and suicide threats to Allen, and his campaign of stalking left the singer terrified during a gig when he turned up holding a banner saying: 'I wrote The Fear'.

He would hammer on the door of her flat and spend entire nights lurking in the back garden before forcing his way into her bedroom on October 13 last year.

Allen told The Observer: 'The door handle was twisting round. This guy came steaming in and I didn't know who he was. I recoiled and he ripped the duvet off, calling me a 'f****** b****' and yelling about where his dad is.'

Gray was removed from the property by Allen's partner and fled. Police were called and the singer later found her handbag had been stolen.

Allen claimed officers were 'uncomfortable' with her suggestion it was the same stalker, adding: 'Every time I tried to talk to someone about it, it was like hitting a brick wall. The police are saying, 'Right, it's burglary if you want this guy to get a prison sentence', and you're thinking, 'But I don't give a s*** about my handbag'.

Allen revealed last weekend that she has become a 'hermit' after being stalked by Gray, who was convicted of burglary and harassment at Harrow Crown Court and will be sentenced in May.

Allen said she was not angry at Gray because he 'has a mental illness' and was 'failed' by the system.

But she added: 'Until he gets the right treatment and the right help he needs, then I'm not safe. You can throw the book at him, put him in jail, but he'll still be coming out. And the victim is never safe.'

Original report here

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Australia: Queensland police officer charged with rape, assault

A POLICE constable charged with rape met his alleged victim through online dating site Plenty of Fish, a court has been told.  The 23-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was granted bail in the Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning despite police objecting to his release.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Scott Pearson said the man met up with a woman through Plenty of Fish over the weekend.  He said the woman “stipulated... there would be no sexual contact”, but the man allegedly digitally raped her twice. It is then alleged he tried to choke her and after she told him to stop he replied “shut up, c**t”. He has been charged with two counts of rape and one of common assault.

The man is not required to enter a plea to those charges at this stage of proceedings. Bail was granted because he has no criminal history and no weapons are alleged to have been used.  The case returns to court on May 16.

It is alleged the officer from the northern police region sexually assaulted the woman before grabbing her by the throat.
The police prosecutor, Sgt Scott Pearson, said the victim told him she did not want to be choked, to which the accused replied: “Shut up, c*nt.”

He then allegedly told her she looked like the kind of girl who “liked to be choked in bed”.

The woman then dialled triple-zero, showed the man and threatened to call the police, the court heard.

It is alleged he then swore at her again before leaving.

The court also heard the man has no previous criminal history and has strong ties to the community.

There was no suggestion he used a weapon or caused significant injuries, his lawyer said.

His parents attended the court hearing.

He has been suspended since being arrested by members of the ethical standards command. The magistrate, Tina Previtera, granted bail on the condition the man live with his parents

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

New Orleans police officers plead guilty in shooting of civilians

A long saga comes to an end with a plea deal

NEW ORLEANS — Five former police officers involved in the shooting deaths of unarmed people here in the days after Hurricane Katrina, a case that drew national outrage and intense scrutiny to the city’s police force, pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday and received significantly less prison time than they originally faced.

The guilty pleas, which drew prison terms from three to 12 years, were the latest development in a wrenching 10-year saga that began when officers responding to a distress call on the Danziger Bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, opened fire on unarmed [black] residents, killing two and injuring four.

The officers — Sergeant Kenneth Bowen, Sergeant Robert Gisevius, Officer Anthony Villavaso, and Officer Robert Faulcon, as well as a detective, Arthur Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shooting — were initially indicted on state charges. Those indictments were dismissed, and the officers were then charged in federal court.

The men were found guilty in 2011 and faced sentences of six to 65 years, but a federal judge threw out the convictions and ordered a retrial.

Under the terms of Wednesday’s deal, the four officers involved in the shooting received sentences ranging from seven to 12 years. The fifth man, Kaufman, who was accused of a coverup, got three years.

Original report here

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ched Evans: Wales footballer's rape conviction quashed

This was a noxious conviction from the get-go.  Evans had no reason to believe that the sex was not consensual at the time or afterward.  The woman did not complain.  Evens only found that the sex was not consensual when a court told him so. As if they could know!  There was clearly no "mens rea" there so he was innocent from the beginning.  The Crown Prosecutors stretched the law in order to appease feminists with a high profile conviction.  Evans is the victim of feminist hate

Footballer Ched Evans has had his conviction for rape quashed at the Court of Appeal in London, but will face a new trial.

The ex-Wales international was jailed in 2012 for raping a 19-year-old at a Premier Inn near Rhyl, Denbighshire.

The former Sheffield United, Manchester City and Norwich player was released from jail in October 2014 after serving half of his five-year term. Mr Evans, 27, has always denied raping the woman.

Speaking outside court Mr Evans's solicitor Shaun Draycott said: "Ched Evans is extremely grateful that the court of appeal has ruled that his conviction for rape was unsafe and should be quashed."

The striker's case was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates possible miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, after new evidence emerged.

Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Flaux and Sir David Maddison heard submissions over two days from Kieran Vaughan QC, for Mr Evans, and from Eleanor Laws QC, for the Crown.

Announcing the court's decision, Lady Justice Hallett said the judges heard "fresh evidence" during the appeal hearing on 22 and 23 March.  She said: "In summary, we have concluded that we must allow the appeal and that it is in the interests of justice to order a retrial."

The court quashed Mr Evans's conviction and declared: "The appellant will be retried on the allegation of rape."

Original report here

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Prosecutor: Despite video, officer's shooting was tough case

Prosecutors in the Carolinas have charged at least five white officers recently with felonies after on-duty shootings of black men, but they're finding that getting jurors to send them to prison can be a far more difficult challenge.

Solicitor Donnie Myers still believes officer Justin Craven committed a felony when he ran up to Ernest Satterwhite's car and fired repeatedly through his window as the 68-year-old drunken-driver sat in his driveway after leading officers on a 13-mile chase.

But when he tried to indict Craven for voluntary manslaughter, the grand jury refused, returning a misdemeanor misconduct charge instead. Myers told The Associated Press that he decided then that the only way to get any justice for the dead driver was to offer a plea deal to this lesser charge.

After all, if a grand jury, with its rules favoring prosecutors, couldn't be convinced of the seriousness of Craven's actions, getting a unanimous verdict from a regular jury would be even more difficult, Myers said.

"We've got to convince all 12. All the defense has to do is convince one," Myers said.

Craven was sentenced to three years' probation and 80 hours of community service after pleading guilty on Monday. The indictment accused him of "using excessive force and failing to follow and use proper procedures."

It's a challenge for prosecutors as more police officers are charged with on-duty crimes: Unless there is evidence of obvious bad intentions, jurors are often wary of second-guessing an officer's judgment call, said Tom Nolan, a professor of criminology at Merrimack College in Massachusetts.

"People have been conditioned by what they see on television to think that police officers face dangerous situations all the time," said Nolan, who was a Boston police officer for 27 years. "They give leeway, thinking these extreme situations happen frequently."

Craven's dashboard camera from February 2014 shows him charging up to Satterwhite's open window, gun in hand, and reaching inside with both arms. A struggle ensues inside the car, beyond the camera's view.

Craven said Satterwhite tried to grab his gun. The video shows him stepping back from the car before firing.

The video has no audio to tell what was being said because the battery on Craven's body microphone had gone dead, State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said.

Craven is the third white officer in the past year to avoid any time behind bars after being accused of felonies for killing a black man in the Carolinas.

Another officer, North Charleston's Michael Slager, is under house arrest waiting for his murder trial for fatally shooting a fleeing black motorist. And former state Trooper Sean Groubert is in jail facing up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in March to aggravated assault and battery for shooting a black man who was reaching for his driver's license at the officer's request.

Prosecutors charged former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs with murder for shooting a man trying to leave a police station, saying he escalated the confrontation. But after two hung juries, prosecutor David Pascoe agreed to a misdemeanor misconduct in office conviction and a year of home detention. Pascoe said he doubted he could ever get a unanimous verdict in that case, the most polarizing of his 20-year career.

North Carolina prosecutors dropped a voluntary manslaughter charge against Charlotte police officer Randall Kerrick after a jury voted 8-4 to acquit him in the shooting of a black motorist who had knocked on a door seeking help after a car wreck.

In Craven's case, the officer's defense team rejected the plea offer for more than a year, even after Myers persuaded a different grand jury to indict him on the felony charge of firing into an occupied vehicle, carrying up to 10 years in prison.

Craven finally took the deal as his trial loomed this week, and Myers said he couldn't rescind the offer at that point.

"I couldn't back up on that. It had been offered," Myers said. Besides: "It would have been a tough trial. Based on the chase — it would have been a tough matter."

Satterwhite's relatives accepted a nearly $1.2 million settlement from the city of North Augusta in April 2015 after suing the police department, and the criminal conviction could make it difficult for the 27-year-old Craven to serve again in law enforcement. He currently works as a building inspector for the city.

Defense lawyer Jack Swerling said it was a mistake in judgment to rush up to the driver, but said Craven's concern was justified because the 13-minute chase, also captured on dashcam video, showed him swerving into oncoming traffic and off the side of the road, and hitting at least two other cars.

State police later said Satterwhite's blood-alcohol content was 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit. Court records show the car mechanic had more than a dozen traffic violations, including at least three times when he refused to stop for police. The same records also showed that he was never violent toward officers.

Elected prosecutors face pressure from voters who want them to be fair, but not too tough on the people protecting them, Nolan said.

In Myers' case, getting re-elected is no longer a concern. After 40 years as an elected prosecutor, he decided last month not to run again after his own arrest in February on a charge of driving under the influence.

Original report here

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mother of murdered child left 'speechless and numb' as police arrest a man in his 30s on suspicion of his killing - 20 years after SHE was wrongly charged

Cold case detectives investigating the murder of a six-year-old boy found strangled in woodland more than 20 years ago have today arrested a man in his 30s.

Rikki Neave was last seen leaving his home on the Welland estate in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, to go to school on November 28 1994. His naked body was found in nearby woodland the following day and a post-mortem examination found he had been strangled.

Rikki's clothes - including grey school trousers, a jacket and a white shirt - were later found in a dustbin yards from the wooded area.

If the man - arrested on suspicion of murder - carried out the attack, he would have been a child at the time of the incident.

A police spokesman said: 'He is currently in custody at a police station in Cambridgeshire.'

Rikki's mother Ruth Neave, 47, was charged with her son's murder but was later found not guilty by a jury at Northampton Crown Court. She admitted child neglect and cruelty and was sentenced to seven years in prison

Her husband Gary Rogers, 55, today said the couple were left 'speechless and numb' when two liaison officers knocked on their door to say they had made an arrest this morning.

Speaking from a hotel in March, Cambridgeshire - just miles from where Rikki was killed - he revealed he and his wife heard a knock at the door at 6.55am.

Mr Rogers, who is Ruth's full-time carer, said: 'At five to seven in the morning, to have two liaison officers standing on your doorstep after being woken up by them is a shock.

'They said "we need to come in and talk to Ruth". They very nicely insisted to come in, it was a case of "we do need to come in".  'So we got her out of bed quickly, put the dogs in the kitchen and went and sat down.  'They sat us down in the front room and told us straight away they had made an arrest within the last five to ten minutes.'

The couple, who live in Cambridgeshire, revealed they do not know who has been arrested.

Ms Neaves declined to speak, instead nominating her husband to comment for her, but looked sombre throughout while wearing black sunglasses to cover her eyes.

Mr Rogers added: 'All they told us is that it's a man in his 30s from Peterborough.

'We always hoped this day would come. We are speechless and numb, but it's a good day.'

The pair were not told if the suspect was arrested before or if he was known to the police previously.

Speaking about the moments just after they were told the news, Mr Rogers said: 'We just sat and looked at each other.

'It was surreal, that's the word I've been looking for all day, it was surreal.  'I always knew if I could get people to listen to the evidence which I've got in the files - we would get here.'

The couple hope advances in technology will help the investigation.

Mr Rogers said: 'The police are using 3D imaging, for the first time ever. 'They are able to take an image of the area at the time and regress it back to a point of time.'

This enables the police to recreate the woodland were Rikki was discovered and the shops where he was last seen.

Mr Rogers added: 'Our reaction this morning was total shock. We didn't know this was coming. This has come straight out of the blue for us.'

Mr Rogers met Ms Neaves eight years ago at Histon Football Club and the pair paid £600 for the police's case file on Rikki's death to review the investigation themselves.

Detectives from Cambridgeshire Police re-launched a fresh investigation into the murder inquiry last year following pressure from Ms Neave, who argued that her son's killer remains at large.

The new investigation found four possible sightings of Rikki on the day he was murdered, including two boys who were seen walking out of the woods where his body was found.

Police then released an artist's impression of the pair, who were teenagers at the time, because they wanted to speak to them in connection with the murder of the six-year-old.

The case involving Ms Neave's arrest caused a national outcry in 1995 after details of the horrific abuse Rikki suffered at his mother's hands became public.

She was once dubbed the UK's most evil mother after she admitted charges of causing child cruelty to Rikki and his two sisters, Rebecca, then eight, and Rochelle, three.

She was initially charged with Rikki's murder, plus five counts of child cruelty between 1986 and 1994, and a further drugs charge, but she denied them all at first. Ms Neave later changed her plea to admit all of the charges expect allegation that she killed her son.

During the murder trial, the court heard Neave had a fascination with killers and their minds, and that she had pleaded with social workers to take her son into care.

Jurors heard Ms Neave said Rikki was in danger if he stayed at home, and one social worker reported witnessing her threatening to 'hang her son from the ceiling'.

Another social worker said Neave threatened to kill her son the day before he was reported missing, and a witness reported seeing her walk 'hurriedly' towards the spot where his body was found on the day he went missing.

Lawyers for the defence said during the trial that a sex attacker who had not been found could have been responsible for Rikki's death.

They told the court that another child was attacked and tied to a tree five months before Rikki died, and said that a 10-year-old girl said she had seen the boy alive after he had been reported missing.

Ms Neave was cleared of murdering her son, but jailed for seven years for cruelty to Rikki, her daughter Rebecca, and one other child.

Following her release from prison in 2000, she and her husband Gary Rogers fought a bitter campaign to have the murder inquiry re-opened.  Ms Neave called a press conference in 2014 to urge the force to reopen their investigation.  She said at the time: 'I loved Rikki, he was a wonderful child.

'For the last 20 years, I have been going through living hell from the public opinion of me caused by all the lies.' Ms Neave added: 'I wasn't a perfect mother but I never hurt my children and I should never have admitted to those offences. 'All I want now is justice and for his killers to be caught.

'I know people out there think I'm a murderer but I'm determined to prove that somebody else did this to my boy.'

Speaking after it was re-launched in June 2015, she said: 'We've waited for far too long for this day.  'I am longing for the moment someone tells me they've found the person who murdered my son.

'My son died and that is unforgivable. The torment and heartache I have suffered in all these years needs to be put to bed properly for Rikki's sake as well as mine.'

Ms Neave added: 'It is torture for me, as I wake, as I go to bed - it's heart-wrenching and I am barely coping with all of this.  'All we want is justice for my little Rikki. I have been waiting for this for so long it kills me.

'There are a load of disturbing factors surrounding the case and I feel confident the police have been investigating every single one of them.  'I simply want the truth to come out.'

The arrest comes after officers methodically built a timeline of Rikki's last movements which resulted in a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction at the end of last year.

Speaking on the eve of the 21st anniversary of his death Detective Chief Inspector Richard Wall from Cambridgeshire Police said: 'We have had an overwhelming response from the public and have built a strong timeline of Rikki's last movements.

'Even 21 years on people still remember clearly the events leading up to Rikki's death and I would urge people to continue to come to us with any information they have.

'At the time of Rikki's death we know that drug use was common place on the estate and are keen to hear from any professionals who may have been helping people and given information about the murder.

'We are confident that we are closing in on those responsible for Rikki's death and it is only a matter of time before we have that vital breakthrough that leads us to them.'

Original report here

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

NYPD launches investigation into shocking video that shows a sergeant putting a woman in a chokehold and holding her against a car during traffic stop

A video has surfaced on YouTube showing a New York police sergeant appearing to choke a woman.

The New York Police Department told Daily Mail Online that a preliminary review of the video 'revealed that this is not a recent incident.'

However, police said 'it has been forwarded to Internal Affairs for further review.'

In the video, the woman is seen attempting to run away from the officer down a street before he grabs her from behind with his right hand, walking her back to a parked car while holding her neck.

The man filming the video from inside a moving car is heard yelling 'oh s***' as he and the other passenger, who can also be heard in the video, pull up closer to the scene.

Once closer, the woman is seen standing against a parked red car as the officer appears to hold her by the neck while trying to restrain her as another officer looks on.

At this time, details of the incident are not immediately clear nor is why the woman was being stopped.

Sources told the New York Post that the incident took place in Manhattan's 5th Precinct in the Little Italy area, on a stretch of Hester Street near the corner of Mulberry Street.

'He's got her good around the throat… he's forcing her backwards,' the source told the Post.

In 1993, the NYPD banned chokeholds and according to the department's patrol guide, a chokehold includes but is not limited to 'any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.'

The video was posted to YouTube on Saturday with the caption: '#NYPD Officer caught on camera CHOKING a woman! Wtf?!?!'

Another video showing the incident was previously posted to YouTube on March 18 by a different user, according to the Post.

Original report here

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

U.K.: Bouncers slam a bleeding man's head off a pavement as he screams out in pain

One imagines that the victim had been making an asshole of himself but the bouncers appear to have gone too far

A shocking video has surfaced showing bouncers kicking a bloodied man and slamming his head off the pavement outside a branch of McDonald's.

Footage captured on a bystander's phone shows a doorman pinning the man to the floor in an arm hold as he yelps in pain, pleading for him to stop.

Another bouncer is then shown giving the man a kick in the ribs outside the fast food outlet in Blake Street, York.

As the man cries to be let go, one of the bouncers can be heard calling him a 'silly boy'.

The video was captured by York resident Andrei Osborne, who asks the door staff to 'leave him alone'.

At this moment, the bouncer who kicked the man realises he is being recorded on camera and approaches Andrei before knocking the phone out of his hand.

Andrei put the footage up on Facebook, calling it 'a video of brutality displayed by the bouncers of McDonald's'. It has since been viewed more than 500,000 times.

A McDonald's spokesman told the York Press: 'We can confirm that an incident took place outside our restaurant in Blake Street and we are supporting the police with their investigation.

'The company who employ the door staff are also aware of the incident and an internal investigation has been launched.

'Whilst this investigation is ongoing, the individuals in question will not be working at any of our restaurants.'

A police statement confirmed the matter was being investigated, adding: 'A 28-year-old man was arrested at the scene and released after accepting a caution for assault.'

Original report here

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Australia: Victoria Police is about beating you 'sensless'. The Horvath case still requires action

In 1996, 21-year-old Corinna Horvath was assaulted by police during an unlawful raid on her Melbourne home. Her nose was broken and a tooth chipped. She was hospitalised for 5 days.

In 2001, Ms Horvath won a civil case at the County Court. After 40 days of evidence, the judge found police had committed trespass, assault, unlawful arrest and false imprisonment and awarded Ms Horvath $143,525 in compensation. This amount was reduced on appeal and Ms Horvath was denied leave to appeal to the High Court.

In Victoria, individual police officers, rather than the State, are liable to pay damages for unlawful conduct. Where a police officer is unable to pay, the victim can go uncompensated. Further, none of the police involved has been disciplined or prosecuted by the State. Ms Horvath seeks adequate compensation and effective discipline of the police officers involved.

In 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Ms Horvath's right to an effective remedy was violated, in relation to the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention to which she was subjected, and the interference with her home and privacy. The Committee recommended legislative reform in Victoria and adequate compensation for Ms Horvath.

Partial remedy in record time!

On 19 September 2014, Corinna Horvath obtained an individual remedy some 5 months after the UN found her rights had been violated and that she should be compensated. Ms Horvath received a written apology from the Victorian Police Commissioner and an ex gratia payment as compensation for the violent assault on her by police in 1996.

Congratulations to Ms Horvath and her legal team. Thank you to everyone who campaigned for her right to an effective remedy.

However, there is more to be done. The UN Human Rights Committee found that Australia "is also under an obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations occurring in future" by means of law reform "to ensure its conformity with the requirements of the Covenant."

The events in question:

Corinna Horvath and her partner, Craig Love, had friends David and Colleen and their two boys over for a barbecue one Saturday afternoon in 1996. At about 9:40pm, two police officers knocked on the door wanting to inspect her unroadworthy car for evidence it had recently been driven, contrary to police instruction. Ms Horvath refused and asked them to leave. A scuffle ensued, in which the police claim they were assaulted by Horvath and Love, but a County Court judge found that Horvath and Love had 'used no more force than was necessary' to prevent the police trespassing on their property. The police left and called for reinforcements.

At 10:30pm, 5 police cars arrived and 8 policemen got out and surrounded the house. One of the police ‘yelled … in a loud and aggressive voice’ that the occupants should open the door, as they intended to make an arrest. The occupants refused, asking for evidence of a warrant. The officer replied that they did not need one. One of the officers then kicked open the front door ‘with great and sudden force’, striking Ms Horvath's friend David in the face with the door, causing injury and constituting an assault.

This same officer then entered the house, ‘pursued David … brought him to the floor and, in the course of so doing, struck him on the right side of the head and hit him at least once with a baton across his lower back.’ Another police officer then informed the first that David was not the man they sought to arrest.

The first officer then entered the lounge room where he tackled Ms Horvath to the floor, then 'brutally and unnecessarily' punched her in the face up to a dozen times, thereby 'rendering her senseless'. Ms Horvath has no recollection of this assault. She suffered a broken nose and chipped tooth, bruising and scratches to her face and body. Two officers then handcuffed her 'in a manner that restricted her from reducing the pain and blood flow from her nose or otherwise relieving her injuries' and dragged her to their divvy van. Meanwhile, her friend Colleen was forced to the floor and held there with a knee in her back. Ms Horvath and Mr Love were both arrested and taken away by police.

Ms Horvath was 'not provided with immediate medical treatment' in police custody, but instead 'left screaming in pain in [a] cell'. She was 'eventually discovered by a police doctor who contacted her parents', who called an ambulance. She was released from custody at about 12:20am and taken to hospital for emergency treatment.

A week later, Ms Horvath returned to hospital and was admitted for 5 days, requiring surgery to repair her facial injuries. She is left with scars on her nose and has been treated for anxiety and depression arising from the assault.

Original report here

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Vicar who was accused of rape, murder and child neglect says he felt 'vilified' after ALL charges against him were DROPPED

Why can't the Brirtish cops get their ducks in a row BEFORE charging people?

A vicar today cleared of killing his newborn grandson has told how he felt 'vilified' when police brought charges of murder and child neglect against him.

Reverend Jim Percival, 65, and daughter Ruth, 29, were both arrested in November 2014 after detectives were alerted to a stillbirth at the vicarage of Holy Trinity Church, in Freckleton, Lancashire.

Then in January, Rev Percival and his daughter were told the baby murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child investigations had been dropped.

Today they were finally told the complete investigation was now closed after officers dropped any claims of child neglect against them.

Rev Percival smiled briefly as he left Blackpool Police Station after he was told in person about the case being closed and police bail was lifted.

But friends stressed that the 18-month investigation has ruined his life - as he has since felt the need to resign from his village position.

One said: 'He feels he has been vilified over this. He has waited 17 months to be told he is a free man. 'In those months he has lost his eldest daughter to cancer and there have been other family troubles.

'Today is not for celebration but one must question the time it has taken for the police to make a final decision and relieve a man of God of this massive burden.'  'Some of the mud will always stick and that is why he has moved even though his Bishop has been very supportive of him.'

Rev Percival was vicar of the village's Holy Trinity Church for ten years having previously worked at churches in Preston and Blackburn. He was previously a carpenter in Putney, London until he joined the priesthood in 2003.

He and office cleaner daughter Ruth were first arrested in November 2014 after the police were alerted to a stillbirth at the vicarage.

During the week which followed the birth he disappeared for a few days bizarrely leaving details for his own funeral.

Prayers were said for the family after the initial arrests, with friend and stand-in vicar Rev Scholz stressing it was wrong to 'jump to conclusions'. He added at the time: 'The congregation are all nice people and, like any family going through difficult times, they will pull together.'

The village ran amok with rumours about Rev Percival's disappearance but he returned for the Christmas lights switch on and police quickly did a finger tip search of the vicarage.

Villagers had not known his daughter was even pregnant and her father initially said she had been taken seriously ill.

One 87-year-old parishioner said: 'It's very, very sad. I sat behind Ruth every week at church and never realised she was pregnant.

'Personally, I think the vicar is excellent, pastorally he was great. He would regularly visit the sick and infirm. He was a nice man.'

The vicars wife Susan, 66, was also arrested in November 2014 but was soon told no action was to be taken against her.

Lancashire Police today issued a statement confirming the whole matter was now closed.

The force said: 'A 66-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman from Freckleton have today been told they will face no further action following the death of a baby boy.

'The pair were re-arrested in January and questioned on suspicion of child neglect.  'They both answered bail today and, following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, have been told they will face no charges.

'Both the man and the woman had been previously arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child. 'They were also released no further action in respect of those offences in January.'

Although not mentioned in their statement, a force spokesman said the historic rape allegation has previously also been dropped.

Detective Supt Sue Clarke, who led the investigation, said: 'We have worked very closely with the Crown Prosecution Service from the very early stages.

'It was an extremely complex and sensitive enquiry, which was led by our Force Major Investigation Team, and we respect the decision they have made not to bring any charges.

'While we recognise the impact that such investigations can have on all those concerned, we are clearly duty bound to thoroughly investigate incidents such as the death of this baby boy.

'We would like to stress that those arrested as part of our inquiries have been dealt with professionally and sensitively throughout.'

Original report here

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Man wrongly convicted in 1957 Illinois murder released

An Illinois judge vacated the conviction of a 76-year-old man in a 1957 killing and ordered his immediate release from prison Friday, meaning that one of the oldest cold cases to be tried in US history has officially gone cold again.

Jack McCullough was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the death of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, about 70 miles west of Chicago.

In a review of documents last year, a prosecutor found evidence that supported the former police officer’s long-held alibi that he had been 40 miles away in Rockford at the time of Maria’s disappearance.

Judge William P. Brady said Friday that he knew Maria’s murder had haunted the small town of Sycamore for decades, and that he had also lost sleep over the case. "I’m not blind to the importance of this proceeding to many people," he said, minutes before ordering McCullough’s release.

McCullough, in handcuffs, appeared shaken by the decision, rocking back and forth, then taking a deep breath. Family members behind him hugged and cried. Moments later, McCullough, of Washington state, looked back and smiled broadly.

On the other side of the room, Maria’s brother and sister displayed little emotion.

A few hours later, McCullough’s stepdaughter, Janey O'Connor, drove McCullough away from a jail near the courthouse. McCullough, wearing street clothes, smiled to reporters from the back seat.

The DeKalb County state’s attorney who played a central role in pushing for McCullough’s release, told Brady earlier that his office would not retry McCullough if a retrial was ordered. Richard Schmack said there are no legal grounds to try someone again when prosecutors are convinced of that person’s innocence.

Schmack, who wasn’t involved in McCullough’s case and was elected to the state’s attorney post as that 2012 trial was coming to an end, filed a scathing report with the court last month. He had conducted a six-month review of evidence, including newly discovered phone records, and his report picked the case apart, point-by-point.

He said in an e-mail that he was reviewing the judge’s ruling and would not be commenting Friday.

Maria’s disappearance made headlines nationwide in the 1950s, when reports of child abductions were rare.

She had been playing in the snow with a friend on Dec. 3, 1957, when a young man approached, introduced himself as "Johnny" and offered them piggyback rides, according to police reports. Maria’s friend went home to get mittens, and when she came back, Maria and the man were gone. Forest hikers found her remains five months later.

At trial, prosecutors said McCullough was Johnny, because he went by the name John Tessier in his youth, when he lived in Sycamore. They said McCullough, then 18, dragged Maria away, choked her, and stabbed her to death.

McCullough’s long-held alibi was that he had been in Rockford, attempting to enlist in the Air Force at a military recruiting station, on the night Maria disappeared.

Schmack said newly discovered phone records proved McCullough had made a collect call to his parents at 6:57 p.m. from a phone booth in downtown Rockford — which is 40 miles northwest of where Maria was abducted between 6:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m.

Schmack also reviewed police reports and hundreds of other documents, including from the Air Force recruitment office, which he said had been improperly barred at trial. In his review he said the documents contained "a wealth of information pointing to McCullough’s innocence, and absolutely nothing showing guilt."

He also noted that Maria’s friend had identified McCullough as the killer five decades later from an array of six photographs; McCullough’s picture stood out, partly because everyone but him wore suit jackets and their pictures were professional photos.

O’Connor said she had been convinced of her stepfather’s innocence from the start. "Jack was just a normal person doing his grandpa thing, and his happened to him," she said.

She said he told her he’s looking forward to shopping for his children and grandchildren, because he has "a lot of birthdays and Christmases to catch up on."

Original report here

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Friday, April 15, 2016

'Rotten to the core' police detective who had sex with domestic abuse victims and sent them sex texts is jailed for four years

A 'predatory' police officer who sent sex texts to vulnerable domestic abuse victims and had sex with two of them has been branded 'rotten to the core' as he was jailed for four years.

A court heard Detective Constable Michael McMillan, 32, abused his position in the Merseyside's Family Crime Investigation Unit by targeting the women for his 'sexual purposes'.

The 32-year-old married father of two pleaded guilty to seven offences of misconduct in public office and was today jailed for four years.

Liverpool Crown Court was told that McMillan targeted his seven victims when they were at their lowest point having first gained their trust.

Duncan Bould, prosecuting, told how his behaviour included bombarding his victims with hundreds of sex texts, sending them lewd photos and videos and asking for nude images in return.

He also recommended that no further action be taken against the ex-partner of a woman who would not send him pictures after he said he wanted to 'f***' her and he had sex with another victim after asking her to dress up for him.

The court heard on another occasion McMillan received a sex act from a woman while a junior colleague waited outside and later had sex with her three times.

On yet another occasion he received a sex act from a victim while completing a statement retracting her domestic violence complaint.

He also convinced an alleged attempted rape victim to retract her complaint against her wishes and then lied and claimed he had sought protection for her.

The Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, told him: 'You used your position as a detective constable, specially trained in the handling of complaints of domestic violence and of its victims, to abuse that position in the worst way imaginable - for your sexual gratification in order to further and in some cases satisfy your apparent insatiable sexual appetite.

'All of these women were left with their confidence and trust in the police shattered. That confidence may never be regained.'

The judge said McMillan's actions in order to fulfil his 'predatory sexual urges' undid the hard work of professional colleagues in building bridges with victims.

'Even within baskets of the choicest fruits there may be found one rotten apple. You showed yourself in the so-called discharge of your duties as a police officer, in which you professed to to have taken pride, to be rotten to the core.'

McMillan, of Crosby, Merseyside, committed the offences between June 2011 and June 2014 and they came to light when a 17-year-old girl missing from home was found to have contacted him.

Mr Bould said police examined his phone and discovered a vast number of sexual texts and images.

McMillan told the victim of an alleged attempted rape that she looked attractive in a bikini in a photo on her attacker's phone, before sending pictures of his penis.

He later convinced her to retract her attempted rape allegation and she is now reluctant to contact police which she since regrets.

David Temkin, defending, said McMillan suffers from bipolar disorder and was under the care of a consultant psychiatrist.

He said his client was never threatening or violent towards the complainants but was ashamed and embarrassed by his behaviour.

Original report here

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

San Antonio Cop Fired After Body Slamming 12-Year-Old

A San Antonio, Texas police officer who was caught on camera body slamming a 12-year-old girl has been fired from his job.

Joshua Kehm, an officer for the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) police department, became the subject of viral outrage last week when a video surfaced of him picking up sixth-grader Janissa Valdez, tossing her to the ground, and then handcuffing her as she lies motionless. The incident itself occurred March 29.

Kehm was reportedly intervening to prevent a fight between Valdez and another girl, though Valdez claimed she wasn’t attacking the girl when the officer picked her up. Valdez also claimed the body slam briefly knocked her out.

Original report here

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

UK: Four youths cleared of rape hit out after being dragged through TWO YEARS of hell when bungling police treated them as ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and 'airbrushed evidence about victim's interest in group sex'

Four young men were dragged through ‘hell’ by bungling rape detectives who ‘buried’ the evidence that eventually caused the case against them to fall apart.

The quartet, who were arrested after a group sex session at a student ball, last night said police treated them as ‘guilty until proven innocent’.

Detectives were accused of ‘cherry-picking’ evidence to support their case, while ‘airbrushing’ out anything that suggested the men were innocent.

Thady Duff, Leo Mahon and Patrick Foster, all 22, and James Martin, 20, had denied charges of rape and sexual assault.

And the Gloucester Crown Court case against them fell apart after it emerged that the alleged victim had given ‘different accounts’ as a witness in another rape case.

Officers are also facing questions over why it took 13 months to charge the men, with lawyers alleging evidence had been ‘withheld’ by officers before the trial.  This included messages taken from the victim’s phone hinting that she may have consented.

The rape case collapsed on the day it was revealed that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) last year dropped more cases than in any of the previous five years.  The damning figures revealed that one in every eight Crown Court cases – more than 12,600 – were abandoned before they had even started.

Last night amateur jockey Mr Martin criticised the ‘devastating’ police investigation.  He said: ‘If they had done their job properly it would have been over a long time ago and I would have years of my life back.’

His barrister Edward Henry accused officers of ‘airbrushing’ and ‘cherry-picking’ evidence and said there will need to be a review.  He added: ‘We need to know the answers to some questions. Why this should have gone on for so long as it has? Why it took 13 months to decide to charge these defendants in the first place?’

Mr Henry had told the court there had been an ‘absolute failure’ by a police officer ‘to take notes except for self-serving acts on occasion’.  He said: ‘There are two notes where sexual behaviour has been mentioned to the officer and these notes have never made their way into the defence material.  ‘He has vandalised the trial process. It is broken and cannot be fixed.’

The young men were arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault after the drunken sex session on the night of the ‘Mad Hatters’ May ball at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, in 2014.

A ‘pornographic’ video of the act was shared on social messaging app Snapchat – leading the woman involved to tell police she had been raped.

The young men were facing prison sentences of more than ten years if they had been convicted.

But it emerged on the eve of the trial opening that the police had failed to reveal that the alleged victim had given ‘different accounts’ as a witness to an alleged rape on an Army base in October 2014. The alleged rapist was a soldier but he was later cleared.

Detectives were also said to have ‘buried’ text messages sent by the woman which said she was worried she would ‘look bad’ if the sex tape got out.

Mr Martin yesterday spoke of his relief. The amateur jockey said he had been ‘devastated’ to be arrested and to have the charges hanging over him for two years, adding: ‘I didn’t feel like it was real. It was hard, very hard. It’s always been there.

‘It’s changed the way I think about things. I look at people in a different way now – a bit paranoid. It’s harder to trust anybody.

‘It has been hard, really hard for the families. It is a big relief for everyone. I’m relieved but annoyed it got this far.’

The son of a farrier said the police had treated the men as ‘guilty until proven innocent’. He added: ‘It just seems like something out of the 80s. You don’t expect to see the police do this to better themselves.’

Mr Martin said it was ‘frustrating’ that the woman behind the claims remained anonymous under law while the defendants were named and shamed.  He said: ‘She is twisted – she really is. To try to do that to four people just to save her name – I am lost for words.’

His parents Andy and Julia, from the tiny village of Swerford near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, said it had been ‘very distressing’.  Sobbing, his mother said: ‘I have seen my son change. The day we heard the case was closed, I got my son back.’

Melanie Duff, 54, whose polo-playing son Thady had been accused of three charges of rape and one of sexual assault, said the two-year ordeal had been ‘horrendous’.  Mrs Duff, who runs a livery in rural Wiltshire, said: ‘Today is his first day of starting to rebuild his life. It is something which has been hanging over their heads. 'There were some things they couldn’t do and some places they couldn’t go.’

The former Tory councillor for Swindon council added: ‘It has just been horrendous. Anyone who has had anything like this will be able to understand, but their names have been cleared now.’

Three of the men were students at the university and they were suspended in their final year. They have been unable to collect their degrees.

A defence source last night said the police investigation had also been ‘detrimental’ to the woman who made the claims. He said: ‘To egg someone on, to give them unrealistic expectations – it sends out a dreadful message to women who have been raped and who will feel scared or reluctant to come forward.’

A spokesman for, the support group for victims of false allegations, said the young men should have been given life-long anonymity unless they had been convicted – just like the woman who made the complaint.

He said: ‘Why should their lives be for ever associated with these disgusting allegations?

Original report here

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Off-duty Philadelphia SWAT cop 'justified' in shooting and killing armed robbery suspect, investigators say

A guy who shoots at cops must have a very low IQ

An off-duty SWAT officer who shot and killed an armed robbery suspect in the Philadelphia suburb of Olney Saturday afternoon appears to have been justified in shooting him, investigators announced Sunday morning.

At around 2:30pm on Saturday the cop, wearing blue jeans and a black sweatshirt, saw a man in his twenties robbing an elderly man and told the suspect to stop and raise his hands - but the suspect instead opened fire on the officer, officials say.

The officer returned fire, hitting the shooter at least once, NBC 10 reported. The man ran away, but fell down in a nearby parking lot.

He allegedly reached for his gun again while on the ground and the cop fired again, hitting him a second time - then the suspect ran again.

This time, officials say, the suspect collapsed at the corners of Broad and Chew streets. The officer then kept his gun pointed at the man while he waited for backup to arrive.

Witness Bryan Hines told ABC 6, 'You could see where he got shot at on the hip. He wasn't moving. [The officer] kept saying don't move, but we knew he wasn't going to move.'

Once police backup arrived, Hines said, an officer removed a firearm from the suspect's body.  'I watched them take the gun off him,' he said. 'He had like a chrome .32 or something - a chrome revolver.'

The suspect was taken to Einstein hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:06pm, according to ABC.

The police investigation is ongoing, NBC reported, but that at this early stage the officers actions appeared to be justified.

The robbery victim was injured in the initial incident and went to hospital for stitches, police told NBC 10. No police officers were hurt.

Officials had declined to release the names of anyone involved at the time of writing.

Original report here

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Monday, April 11, 2016

UK: Muslim cop tries corruption:  Loses

A special constable has been sacked for attempting to avoid a £100 motoring fine by flashing his warrant card at a traffic officer. Raja Iqbal, 36, who was pulled over in Birmingham last April for driving his Mercedes without an MOT, showed the officer his police identification and when told he would be fined said: 'Come on mate, can't we do anything?'

The former special constable has been sacked by West Midlands Police, after he admitted one breach of discreditable conduct, but denied a breach of honesty and integrity, at a misconduct hearing.

The panel ruled that the officer, a volunteer with the force for eight years, was guilty of gross misconduct and he was dismissed without notice.

Nicholas Wilcox, representing West Midlands Police at the panel, said that Mr Iqbal was followed from Erdington, Birmingham, on the afternoon of April 20 after he was seen to be fiddling with his seatbelt.  The officer conducted a police national computer check on the vehicle, which showed that its MOT certificate had expired four months earlier.

Mr Iqbal was pulled over in the Aston area of the city and he produced his warrant card after being asked to join the officer in the back of his police vehicle.

He also made a comment that his 'gaffer would not be very pleased with him' and, when asked about the MOT, said 'I'll get it booked today. You know I work the beat, yeah.'

Mr Iqbal was officially cautioned in the back of the vehicle for driving without an MOT test certificate and was told that he would be fined £100, to which he responded: 'Come on mate, can't we do anything?'

The panel was told that the special constable did not report the caution to his superiors.

Mr Wilcox said that in interview with the force's professional standards department, Mr Iqbal said he had made the 'come on mate' comment without thinking and had not intended to influence the officer.

Mr Iqbal said he had produced the warrant card to the police officer to 'reassure him that he was dealing with a law-abiding member of the public.'

The former police volunteer had not completed a shift for the force since December 2014 and had tendered his resignation before the incident had taken place, citing personal circumstances.

In mitigation for the officer, who did not attend the hearing, Police Federation representative John Tooms said: 'He admits a breach in relation to discreditable conduct, but denies a breach of honesty and integrity. 'He maintains that his actions amount to misconduct but does not accept they amount to gross misconduct. 'He accepts that he placed the officer in a difficult position, but it was not his intention to do so.

'The vehicle was taken to a car garage on the same day that he was stopped, an MOT was obtained and the fine was paid in full.'

Chairman of the panel Collin Phillips said the officer would be dismissed without notice and added the public expected police officers and staff to act with integrity and honesty while on and off duty.

Original report here

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