Po­lice chief ’s lunch causes trial to col­lapse

Judge aban­dons trial af­ter top of­fi­cer’s Sub­way blun­der

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Front Page - PADDY TRACEY news@west­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

THE trial of two Glouces­ter men charged with af­fray col­lapsed af­ter two po­lice of­fi­cers who were pros­e­cu­tion wit­nesses were seen hav­ing lunch to­gether.

Robert Free­man and An­drew Mayo had gone on trial at Glouces­ter Crown Court this week in re­la­tion to a brawl at a ke­bab shop in the city.

But Judge Ian Lawrie QC called a halt to pro­ceed­ings af­ter Chief In­spec­tor Carl Bourne and PC Mary Jef­fries-Jones were seen eat­ing to­gether at a Sub­way out­let near the court.

PC Jef­fries-Jones, whose ‘body worn’ cam­era footage of the in­ci­dent was played to the jury mul­ti­ple times dur­ing the trial, fin­ished giv­ing her ev­i­dence in the morn­ing of the trial’s sec­ond day.

Ch Insp Bourne then fol­lowed her into the wit­ness box to start to give his ac­count of the in­ci­dent, but he had not fin­ished by the time the court broke for lunch.

Af­ter the break, Free­man’s de­fence lawyer, Ellen McA­naw, said she had seen the pair sit­ting to­gether hav­ing lunch on South­gate Street.

Judge Lawrie said: “I am deeply un­happy the of­fi­cers have spo­ken in this way.”

Giv­ing his rul­ing that the jury would have to be dis­charged, he said: “I am un­happy that a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer has seen fit whilst in mid­dle of giv­ing ev­i­dence to have lunch with an of­fi­cer who had al­ready given ev­i­dence.

“In the light of the is­sues raised by the de­fence, that does cause me con­cern.

“This case and what has been as­serted is all about per­cep­tion. I am not con­tent for the trial to con­tinue.

“I am sadly go­ing to stop this trial in those cir­cum­stances. I blame my­self in part. I fool­ishly took the view that I did not need to give the warn­ing to a chief in­spec­tor of 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence plus.”

Free­man, 37, of Bour­ton Road, Tuf­fley, and Mayo, 33, of Lin­den Road, Glouces­ter, had de­nied a charge of tak­ing part in an af­fray on July 17, 2016 out­side Zam Zams fast food restau­rant in East­gate Street at around 3.45am.

Philip War­ren, pros­e­cut­ing, said in the light of the judge’s rul­ing he would not seek a re­trial if the two men would plead guilty to the less se­ri­ous charge of caus­ing fear or provo­ca­tion of vi­o­lence through threat­en­ing words and be­hav­iour.

Both men then pleaded guilty to that lesser of­fence.

Two other men – Calvin Camp­bell, 47, of Over­ton Road, Chel­tenham, and Leighton Beach, 22, of Hopewell Street, Glouces­ter – have al­ready pleaded guilty to af­fray.

The judge ad­journed the case for sen­tence with all four de­fen­dants present on a date to be fixed.

He told Mayo and Free­man: “I can deal with this by a va­ri­ety of meth­ods short of cus­tody.”

When the aborted trial started, the jury were shown CCTV and po­lice body­cam film of a vi­o­lent dis­tur­bance.

Mr War­ren said it was un­clear what trig­gered the af­fray but it ap­peared to be an in­ci­dent with Beach and a woman, and pos­si­bly a mem­ber of staff at the take­away, when ‘chips were thrown’.

“From there it mush­roomed,” he said. The film showed at one point at least ten men and women in­volved in the dis­tur­bance that even­tu­ally set­tled down af­ter 15 min­utes.

Peo­ple were seen rush­ing in and out of the take­away, con­fronting staff and each other, with the dis­tur­bance rolling all the way over to the GL1 leisure cen­tre on the other side of the road, flar­ing up in­ter­mit­tently.

The pros­e­cu­tor said Mayo “pumps his fist and ap­pears an­gry and ag­gres­sive,” dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

He also said Mayo spat at the po­lice of­fi­cers who at­tended sev­eral times.

The court heard that po­lice of­fi­cers had de­ployed PAVA spray, a form of pep­per spray, and Steven Young, rep­re­sent­ing Mayo, ar­gued that his client had not re­ceived proper ‘aftercare’ as per guide­lines for the use of the spray.

A spokesman for Glouces­ter­shire Con­stab­u­lary said: “Our Crim­i­nal Jus­tice De­part­ment has been in­formed about this in­ci­dent and has li­aised with the Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice about the is­sue.

“We will now be re­view­ing what hap­pened and tak­ing all nec­es­sary ac­tions to en­sure it doesn’t hap­pen again.”

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