Police evidence of disorderly conduct rejected leading to not guilty verdict
Newark criminal advocate Nikki Carlisle was instructed to defend an allegation of disorderly conduct before Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. The trial was listed before a district judge.
Police officers change evidence in disorderly conduct trial
Two police officers gave evidence on behalf of the prosecution. In their original witness statements they had both described Niki’s client as shouting and swearing in the street. They described a number of other members of the public being present. Their view was that his behaviour would have upset these people. The officers went further to state that they were also distressed by the behaviour because he had been verbally abusive to them.
In a somewhat curious development, when the first officer came to give evidence he was unable to remember anything said or done by Nikki’s client. This surprising turn put Nikki’s client in a much better position.
The second police officer, however, departed from his statement by saying that the behaviour was far worse than originally described. He stated that our client had been aggressive and that he had been subject to “the worst verbal abuse that he had ever received in his life”.
The officer went on to give examples of the kind of the things our client had said to him. Nikki was able to play the bodycam footage that had been provided to us during disclosure. This showed that the defendant was not saying any of the things the officer had spoken of in evidence.
Bodycam footage undermines police evidence
Instead, it showed the second officer being sarcastic towards our client, goading him and then using what was clearly excessive force to arrest him. This included spraying him in the face with CS gas.
Despite this clear evidence, the officer tried to explain the difficulties away. He maintained that the abuse must simply not have been picked up by the body worn camera microphone. He claimed that our client had been resisting arrest and that he was in fear of violence.
Nikki addressed the District Judge in relation to two substantial points:
- whatever the Judge made of the alleged conduct, he should not infer that members of the public would have felt harassed, alarmed or distressed without evidence of that
- the only person claiming to have been so affected by the behaviour was the second officer who could not be called a truthful witness.
The District Judge found our client not guilty of disorderly conduct. The judge went as far as to comment on the unnecessary use of CS gas in this case. Our client is pursuing a police complaint.
Why instruct an criminal defence solicitor?
This case demonstrates a number of reasons why you ought to instruct a solicitor to defend criminal proceedings on your behalf. Although this was a minor matter when compared to many other offences, it was of great importance to our client.
Despite the nature of the offence we were successful in applying for legal aid funding to ensure his free representation in the Magistrates’ Court. You can read more about legal aid here.
We were able to ensure that all relevant evidence was disclosed, including the important body worn camera footage. Some recently publicised problems with disclosure can be found here.
Finally, we will ask questions on your behalf and make arguments based on the law and the facts to the courts.
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