POLICE FIASCO TO MAKE YOU DESPAIR
When a top detective’s son was beaten senseless by a thug, his colleagues bungled the manhunt. So he took over and nailed the culprit. And his reward? Being driven out of the force
Detective Superintendent Pete Jackson was enjoying a Sunday morning lie-in when, shortly after 8am, came the call that every parent dreads.
tom, his 18-year-old son, was in hospital. the brilliant chemical engineering student had been punched and knocked to the ground in an unprovoked attack while on a night out.
A friend who was with him was calling Pete from the A&e ward at Manchester Royal infirmary. the friend didn’t know how serious tom’s injuries were, only that he’d been lying unconscious in a pool of blood for more than five minutes. He thought he was dead.
‘You know when you get that feeling in your stomach?’ says Pete, 54. ‘i was in total panic.
‘As a senior investigating officer, this was my day job, dealing with victims of violent attacks. i’ve seen the grief of mums and dads whose child has been killed or left with life-changing injuries. My mantra to my officers was always to go that extra mile to get violent criminals locked up and off the streets — because, i’d say: “if we don’t, it might be my son next.” ’
He shakes his head. Because far from going that ‘extra mile’, officers investigating tom’s case were woefully inept.
On that Sunday in July 2014, as his son lay waiting for an operation to repair his jaw, which was broken in two places, Pete received a phone call to say there was no cctv footage from the scene of the crime and no other lines of inquiry. in effect, the case was closed.
‘i couldn’t believe it,’ says Pete. ‘tom had been knocked unconscious. His friend, Henry, had also been knocked out by this thug. A third friend who was with them, also called tom, had run for his life with this violent lunatic chasing him.
‘the city centre is full of cctv cameras. How could it not have been picked up?
‘Once tom had had his operation to put his face back together, i went to the city centre and found the pool of blood where his head had lain. i stood beside it, looked up and saw a cctv camera right above me.’
the case was subsequently reopened and led to serial violent criminal Anthony Bamgbose being jailed for almost two years.
Yet instead of being commended for his actions, Pete was himself investigated for ‘ inappropriate involvement in the inquiry’.
today, he is no longer a police officer, having retired in disgust from Greater Manchester Police in February after 31 years’ service.
He is speaking today following the release of figures that reveal the force shelves more than 100,000 crime reports every year — with 57 per cent of domestic burglary cases and 76 per cent of street thefts closed on the basis they have no evidence.
Pete, who during his years with one of Britain’s biggest police forces headed the major incident team, blames a culture of box-ticking and performance targets.
‘the force is full of highly ambitious, often bright, individuals who have moved through the ranks quickly but are not proper coppers and have not gained the experience or credibility along the way,’ he says.
‘All their actions are dictated by management manuals and leadership doctrines.
‘in my view, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has become a broken force because of a culture of cronyism and nepotism in which senior officers care less about victims of crime and more about hitting performance targets.’
HiSwords are a damning indictment of the force in which he once served with pride, but they are not allegations he makes lightly.
indeed, he has been so concerned about the lack of judgment of these ‘ highly ambitious’ police officers that, in 2012, he put his job on the line to make a series of allegations about the force, including mishandling the body parts of serial killer Harold Shipman’s victims.
the allegations were taken over by the independent Police complaints commission (iPcc) as Operation Poppy, which has completed its investigation but has yet to decide whether to release its findings.
Meanwhile, GMP has cleared two officers of misconduct while the third is awaiting an outcome. in a statement, GMP Deputy chief constable ian Pilling said the investigation into tom’s assault had identified ‘ poor investigative practice and learnings’.
Mention this and Pete rolls his eyes. ‘Poor investigative practice and learnings? What gobbledy-gook!’ he says. ‘it was a downright disgrace. My son was nearly killed, and if it hadn’t been for me, that thug would have got away with it.’
Pete’s anger is palpable. He loves each of his four, grammar- school educated children deeply and is rightly proud of their achievements.
His youngest son is studying to be a vet at Glasgow University, his 28-year-old daughter works as a GP and his 24- year- old son is a civil engineer, having graduated with First-class Honours.
tom, now 20, who won a place studying chemical engineering at Leeds University after gaining an impressive six A-levels, is on the Dean’s list as an exemplary student. He is also a swimmer, plays on the university lacrosse and football teams, is a keen skier, plays the piano and, according to Pete, is a ‘polite, charming and good-looking young man’.
OFtHAt day tom was attacked, he says: ‘ When we got to the hospital, tom was sat on a bed in a cubicle with his head bandaged up. We had to wait 45 minutes for the ct scans to come back.
that was the worst 45 minutes of my life. every worst-case scenario i’d encountered was going through my head.
‘When you have a serious head injury, you commonly get swelling or a bleed on the brain. it can be life-changing.
‘i was thinking: “if he’s got a bleed or swelling, he’ll be going to Salford Royal Hospital and [doctors will be] cutting into his skull. this could ruin the rest of his life.” i just wanted whoever had done this to be locked up and taken off the streets.’
Pete and Audrey, his wife of 30 years and a teacher, wept tears of relief when the ct scan results revealed no brain damage.
‘two uniformed officers arrived about 9.30am,’ says Pete. ‘they took his friends, tom and Henry, to the car to give statements.
‘i was surprised detectives hadn’t come to see my tom in hospital. this was a serious assault. two lads had been knocked out and scooped up in an ambulance.
‘His friend told me he thought tom was dead. But the officers didn’t even take them back to the scene.
‘About midday, the police rang me to say they’d been back to the scene and there was no cctv and no lines of inquiry outstanding. the crime was filed on the computer, and at that stage the investigation ended.’
But not as far as Pete was concerned. Determined to seek justice for his son, Pete set out to visit the scene of the crime himself.
Reaching the spot where the attack had taken place, Pete looked up and saw a cctv camera belonging to a bar positioned directly above. Furious this had been overlooked, he approached the bar manager asking to see the footage.
‘He put in the time it had happened, 3.30am, and the first image that came up on the screen was tom lying in the road unconscious. that hit me hard, seeing my son lying there not moving,’ says Pete.
‘He started rewinding it and the minutes were going by. i counted
that my son had been unconscious for five minutes. When it got to the stage where Bamgbose hit him, I couldn’t look.’
The following morning, Pete took it up with his divisional commander at the serious crime division.
‘ I said: “The command unit in Manchester city centre is useless. They’ve written the crime off, filed it and yet there’s CCTV.” I asked him if we could send the CCTV unit down there to retrieve footage.’
Footage from several cameras revealed the entire assault: Tom and his friends eating a takeaway on the steps outside the bar; Tom standing up to allow Bamgbose to pass; Tom being punched with great force.
The footage then showed Tom fall to the ground, his friend Henry standing over his unconscious body, trying to protect him.
Bamgbose was seen to punch Henry, who also collapsed. The third friend, also called Tom, was seen running from the attacker. Thankfully, a clear image of Bamgbose was recovered from the CCTV and posted on the force’s internal database. Two officers identified Bamgbose.
‘He was well known,’ says Pete. ‘A colleague told me he’d nearly killed two lads the year before and should have been charged, but wasn’t because it was a really negligent investigation.
‘I was raging about that. He should have been in prison instead of being out and about. If that investigation had been dealt with properly, he wouldn’t have been around to attack Tom.’
The following week, Bamgbose was arrested and charged — not, as Pete wanted, with causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but two lesser charges of serious bodily harm without intent and actual bodily harm.
‘Actual bodily harm is the lowest charge there is,’ says Pete. ‘It’s for giving someone a black eye.
‘This lunatic didn’t just give his victim a black eye: he shattered Tom’s jaw in two places.
‘He’s a serial violent criminal and the public should be protected from him. Instead, the box tickers let him get away with assault causing actual bodily harm.
‘You really do despair. The bottom line is, people don’t care. If some- one pleads guilty and you charge them with something lesser, it’s less work.
‘I said: “Why has he only been charged with that? He could have killed my son. Didn’t you see the CCTV footage?” I was told No.’
Angered, Pete fired off an email to the division head. ‘I said: “My son was nearly killed last week and he’s been charged with this? This has been an absolute disgrace from start to finish.” ’ He sighs, exasperated. ‘A week later, I got a phone call from my boss. He said: “Peter, I have to tell you something but promise you won’t get angry.
‘ “There was a bail meeting this morning but the police got there too late with the CCTV. The defence barrister said Bamgbose had acted in self- defence and, because there was no CCTV or cops, the judge accepted it. He’s just bailed him.”
‘I said: “I’m sorry, but I’m raging. The lads now have to deal with the fact he’s back out in Manchester.” ’
Pete, worse was to follow. ‘While we were waiting for the trial, I was told I was being investigated for my involvement in the case. They said I’d accessed police systems — which I hadn’t — used harsh language and shouted at officers.
‘The Inspector I’d had a go at said she was upset and shocked, although she acknowledged I didn’t swear or raise my voice.
‘They had to disclose the investigation into my actions at Bamgbose’s trial. So his barrister claimed that the only reason he was being charged was because the victim’s dad was a cop.’
Bamgbose was sentenced to 23 months and released after 12. Five months ago, he was sentenced to 22 months for causing actual bodily harm after punching a talented musician in another unprovoked attack and shattering his cheek.
In December 2014, the IPCC concluded its six-month investigation into Peter Jackson’s conduct, observing: ‘ Jackson has involved himself in a police inquiry following an assault on his son. He found evidence which the response officers failed to find. He had heated words with an Inspector.
‘There is, based on the referral, question in my mind as to whether this is misconduct. It is intriguing why there is no conduct taken forward for the officers who stated there was no CCTV following their inquiries.’
Sadly, Pete’s working relationship with senior officers had deteriorated so badly that he felt he had no choice but to leave the force in February. He is now taking Greater Manchester Police to an employment tribunal for constructive dismissal.
‘All I ever wanted to do as a policeman was to lock up criminals and keep them off the streets,’ he says.
‘But we’re in a culture now where more and more senior officers are only concerned about window dressing for Pr purposes. They care more about having police attend local community meetings, where the main complaint is about dogs fouling the pavements, than investing in real policing.’
He shakes his head in sadness. ‘Violent criminals are left to roam the streets because locking them up is too much hard work.’