Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Man Prosecuted Over "No Shit" Comment

Every so often a case comes before the court that leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.

One such case has been discussed in a piece in today's Derby Telegraph.

Before proceeding it is worth mentioning that Rob Warner is the author of the Crimebodge website. That being the case he regularly challenges the behaviour of the police, often when there is good cause to do so. Had this story involved someone totally unfamiliar with the police, it may never have made the headlines. You've got to fancy, given his interest in the police, that Mr Warner has promoted his story to the media in an effort to embarrass Derbyshire Constabulary.

Mr Warner was charged with an offence under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, namely that he used threatening or abusive words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress as a result. This is a summary offence, which can only be dealt with in the Magistrates' Court, and the maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1,000).

The charge arose from an incident that took place outside the school where Mr Warner was picking up his young daughter. There appeared to be some confusion over where his daughter actually was, which understandably caused him to become agitated.

A nearby police officer, who could see Mr Warner's agitation, approached to enquire what the problem was. During the conversation the police officer said "I can see you're angry", to which the concerned father replied "no shit I'm angry". It is important to stress that the comment was a response directed at the police officer. Nobody else expressed any concern about the casual remark at the time.

Mr Warner's daughter was located and he left the scene thinking nothing more about it.

Three weeks later the 45 year-old received a letter from the same police officer, inviting him to attend the police station to discuss an alleged public order offence. Mr Warner, who has some understanding of the law, refused to attend the police station.

The police officer attended Mr Warner's Alvaston property to ask for his voluntary attendance at the police station, but was greeted by another refusal shouted from the upstairs window.

A point alluded to but not directly mentioned in the Derby Telegraph article is that a postal requisition was issued to Mr Warner. That requisition was not received, as it was delivered to the wrong address. Having failed to receive the requisition, Mr Warner failed to attend court and a warrant was issued for his arrest. That arrest was effected by the armed officers mentioned in the article.

Mr Warner denied the charge against him, so a trial date was set. At the recent trial the police officer recounted events exactly as described above, including the "no shit I'm angry" comment. When questioned about whether anyone else had been offended by the comment the officer suggested that members of the public had voiced their concerns, but the prosecution had offered no evidence to that effect.

Weighing everything up the Magistrates arrived at the all too obvious conclusion that no-one was likely to be harassed, alarmed or distressed as a result of Mr Warner's throwaway comment. That being the case the prosecution had failed to discharge the burden of proof and Mr Warner was quite rightly found not guilty of the offence.

Assuming the accuracy of the article, I am flabbergasted that this actually got to court. It was probably a police led prosecution, which may have had something to do with it.

I can't imagine anyone but the most prudish of people being offended by the phrase "no shit" casually dropped into conversation. It is a term of acknowledgement and not an insult. On a scale of profanity, it barely registers. You hear far worse on television and walking along the street every single day, yet people are not recoiling in distress at those utterances.

I would certainly be very concerned if a police officer claimed to be offended by the response "no shit", when he instigated the conversation in the first place. Any police officer in that situation is probably not cut out for the more demanding aspects of the role.

In my opinion Derbyshire Constabulary has shown a lack of judgement in pursuing this most meritless of cases. It has also scored a glaring own goal by targeting such a high profile critic.

One can only imagine what Derbyshire Constabulary's motives were for trying to make an example out of the author of the Crimebodge website.


Graham1979 said...

No shit!!

Unknown said...

Well Shit me!

Anonymous said...

And how much did all that cost the taxpayer? How much paperwork? Time wasting? Ridiculous

Delboycd250 said...

As a retired police inspector I can catagorically state that this attempted prosecution was a complete waste of a shit load of money, time & effort.

Jon said...

Autistic Biscuit,the "likely recipient" requirement (as you put it) comes because there is a defence to the charge when the Defendant "... had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress... "

This prosecution was total horseshit.

Winston Smith said...

Never believe that the Police are on your side - this lot have been through PC PC School and are quite aware who their enemy is. And it's you, if you don't toe the line they draw.

Crimebodge said...

A very pleasant surprise to see you covering this story, especially as I am a fan of this blog.

The short trial I had at magistrates court was the highlight of the whole sordid debacle. I was dreading that I might land a district judge and so was greatly relieved to see a bench of magistrates. I hoped that common sense would prevail and they would finally put an end to Derbyshire police's fun. Unlike the police, the court treated me with the utmost diligence and respect. I came away with a newfound admiration for magistrates, that's for sure.

I think the magistrates saw it for what it was, a petty and vindictive prosecution, although nothing was ever said by either the prosecution or defence about Crimebodge. What else could it have been that the officer discovered 3 weeks after the event, that inspired him to prosecute me? There were no complaints from any other members of the public. The CPS file contained the officer's statement alone. In the unused evidence box there was no mention of any complaints or statements.

What really bugged me the most about this is how the police's prosecution department wilfully ignored the full stage test of the code for crown prosecutors and went ahead with the prosecution anyway. They knew they didn't have a hope in hell of convicting me, they just intended for the process to be the punishment; something vindictive police officers do quite regularly to people they take a personal dislike to. They see the courts as an unnecessary obstruction to their desire to issue summary justice.

The Youtube video was an unexpected benefit and it was so satisfying to watch the backlash against Derbyshire police. Over a million views combined on that one subject and now the press exposure. And they still have the official complaint and lawsuit for malicious prosecution to look forward to. Yes, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

By the way, I never took my story to the press. To be honest I haven't even read the Daily Mail's article yet. I wanted to read yours first! The Derbyshire Telegraph contacted me when they saw my video. They checked out my story carefully and took almost a month to do it, so it isn't something that's been embellished. I genuinely don't care about shaming the police with press exposure, as they are utterly shameless. They are a morally bankrupt service that puts their needs above all others and they don't have the least bit of concern about how bad they look to others. Anyone who criticises them is just dismissed as a trouble maker and a criminal.

But I'm not going away, so they're just going to have to try harder to get rid of me.

Anyway, thank you for such a measured and factual article. It means a great deal to me that I haven't offended you also, as I honestly have the utmost respect for the magistrates courts and the law. District judges are another matter however.

Magistrates Blogger said...

Thanks for dropping by Crimebodge.
Please do keep us abreast of any further developments.