A judge has blasted a waste of taxpayers' money after a couple who picked up items of rubbish from the garden of an abandoned house were thrown into a riot van for attempted burglary.Well, at least the judge saw sense. This time...
Public-spirited Richard and Lynne Small, both 38, believed they were helping the environment when they recovered leftover junk from the garden near their home in Hull, East Yorks.For a pair of old boots, a hose-pipe, a plant, half a shoe lace and used tins of paint?
They collected a pair of old boots, a hose-pipe, a plant, half a shoe lace and used tins of paint from the empty property and used a wheelie bin to carry the trash to their home just a few yards down the road.
But they were left stunned and humiliated when they were arrested, handcuffed and bundled into a police van after being confronted by four officers.
Not exactly the Brinks-Mat job, is it, even if they'd decided to half-inch it all from Halfords, instead of collecting it from an abandoned rubbish pile...
After a five-month ordeal ending at the city's Crown Court the couple were finally released without charge.Then let's start docking the costs of these sorts of wastes of everybody's time and money direct from the salary or pension of the Chief Constable.
And the case judge has condemned the decision to pursue the matter as a sickening waste of taxpayers' money.
That might concentrate the mind a bit..
Bricklayer Richard said: 'We couldn't believe it when they slapped handcuffs us and threw us in a riot van. You'd think we'd robbed a bank the way we've been treated.An eyesore no-one cared about, until they saw someone 'stealing' it.
'When it finally got to court we were charged with the lesser offence of theft by finding and refusing to take a drugs test. We'd refused the drugs sample because we'd done nothing wrong.
'All we did was pick up a bit of litter, we were doing a public service. We'd just been on a walk and thought we could use some of the stuff. It was an eyesore.
The Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence when the pair appeared at court and their barrister Paul Genney said: 'This was rough justice. It is a gross matter of overkill.One can, indeed...
'One would question the reason for the arrest and as for the request to take a drugs test one can well understand their indignation.'
Recorder Paul Isaac formerly entered not guilty verdicts on the theft charges but gave the couple six month conditional discharges for refusing the drugs test.And are the police ashamed?
He said: 'This is all unfortunate. It does seem to me to bring this matter to the crown court is something of a waste of public resources.
'Whatever the rights and wrongs, your defence that you have taken these items believing them to be abandoned would likely have been accepted by any sensible jury.'
Are they hell. They were just 'following procedures':
A spokesman for Humberside Police said: 'We had received a call from a member of the public saying they believed two people were stealing from the house.Handy to have someone else to blame, isn't it?
'We followed procedure and now the police and the Crown Prosecution Service have decided not to continue the case.'
Let's abolish the CPS and give the police back their prosecution responsibilities. Then when there's no one else to pin the blame on for these wastes of time, they might start to act more proportionally...