The doorbell camera doesn’t lie, but…
The has perhaps moved closer to the Big Brother state envisaged by Orwell. There are numerous dash cams and doorbell cameras, CCTV cameras, bicycle helmet cameras and everybody has their own pocket camera in their smart phone. As well as Big Brother, we are now all potentially being recorded by a whole series of little brothers and sisters.
Our client’s case
The position looked bleak for our client. He had been recorded by his next-door neighbour’s doorbell camera while muttering some
nasty abuse. The neighbour had sent the footage to the police. Our client was interviewed under caution as a volunteer.
He contacted Public Order Act expert Jim Buckley to advise him at this police interview. Taking free and independent legal advice in police interview is perhaps the most important way a suspect can protect themselves. Suspects who are unrepresented can cause themselves real difficulties if they answer questions in interview if the evidence does not require comment.
In this case, having considered the evidence disclosed by the police, Jim advised our client was advised to remain silent in his interview.
Charged to Court
Our client was subsequently prosecuted for intentionally causing distress to his neighbour by using abusive or insulting words directed at her camera.
Not guilty verdict
He denied the offence and pleaded not guilty. At trial it was argued on his behalf that it could not be proved that he knew that the camera was a genuine article and not a dummy.
The prosecution argued that there was a sign next to the doorbell camera saying that it was recording live footage. However, an alternative argument was that that nobody installing a dummy doorbell camera would put up a sign saying “don’t worry burglars, this is only a dummy camera”!
Our client was found not guilty because the Magistrates could not be sure that our client knew the camera was real or that it had a microphone attached, or that anyone was listening to the device at the time.
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