Case collapses after Chief Inspector’s lunch with witness
By Court reporter | 5th October 2018
A judge spoke of his "deep concern" after a senior police officer was seen lunching with another witness forcing him to abandon the trial of two men charged with affray.
Chief Inspector Carl Bourne was part way through giving evidence when the trial, which involved an incident outside a takeaway business in Eastgate Street, Gloucester, broke for lunch.
After the break the judge told the court it had been reported to him that Chief Inspector Osbourne had been seen at a nearby Subway sitting with another key witness, PC Mary Jeffries-Jones, leaving him no choice other than to end the trial.
It was the second day in court for Robert Freeman, 37, of Bourton Road, Tuffley, and Andrew Mayo, 33, of Linden Road, Gloucester.
Both men had denied a charge of taking part in an affray on July 17 2016 outside Zam Zams fast food restaurant in Eastgate street at around 3.45am.
PC Jeffries-Jones, whose 'body worn' camera footage of the incident was played to the jury multiple times during the trial, concluded giving her evidence in the morning.
Chief Inspector Bourne then followed her into the witness box to start to give his account of the incident, but he had not finished by the time the court broke for lunch.
After the break, Freeman's defence lawyer, Ellen McAnaw, said that she had seen Pc Jeffries-Jones and Chief Inspector Bourne sitting together having lunch outside Subway on Southgate Street.
Judge Ian Lawrie QC said: "I am deeply unhappy the officers have spoken in this way."
Giving his ruling that the jury would have to be discharged, he said: "I am unhappy that a senior police officer has seen fit whilst in middle of giving evidence to have lunch with an officer who had already given evidence.
"In the light of the issues raised by the defence, that does cause me concern.
"This case and what has been asserted is all about perception. I am not content for the trial to continue.
"I am sadly going to stop this trial in those circumstances. I blame myself in part. I foolishly took the view that I did not need to give the warning to a chief inspector of 20 years experience plus."
Prosecutor, Philip Warren, said in the light of the judge's ruling he would not seek a retrial if the two men would plead guilty to the less serious charge of causing fear or provocation of violence through threatening words and behaviour.
Both men then pleaded guilty to that less offence.
Two other men, Calvin Campbell, 47, of Overton Road, Cheltenham and Leighton Beach, 22, of Hopewell Street, Gloucester, have already pleaded guilty to affray.
The judge adjourned the case for sentence with all four defendants present on a date to be fixed.
He told Mayo and Freeman: "I can deal with this by a variety of methods short of custody."
When the aborted trial started yesterday, the jury were shown CCTV and police bodycam film of a violent disturbance outside a Gloucester takeaway taken from multiple angles.
Whilst the CCTV was silent, the police bodycam footage had audio.
Mr Warren said it was unclear what triggered the affray but it appeared to be an incident with Beach and a woman, and possibly a member of staff at the takeaway, when 'chips were thrown'.
"From there it mushroomed," he said. The film showed at one point at least ten men and women involved in the disturbance that eventually settled down after 15 minutes.
People were seen rushing in and out of the takeaway, confronting staff and each other, with the disturbance rolling all the way over to GL1 Leisure centre on the other side of the road, flaring up intermittently.
All the while other people are seen on the footage carrying on seemingly oblivious to the pandemonium around them, with two men dancing in the street with each other, and a woman patiently waiting for fast food whilst cans of soft drink are being hurled back and forth.
Freeman and Mayo were both heard on the police 'bodycam' footage to shout loudly at the police officers trying to deal with the incident.
Mayo could be heard swearing at officers and describing them loudly as "racist".
Freeman is heard to say to one of the officers: "You are a rookie and you don't know s**t. You have got no right to touch me."
At one stage a member of staff picks up two cans of drink and throws them into the group in the shop, before calmly turning to cut up a pizza, place it in to a box and pass it to a woman waiting to be served whilst the 'ruckus' continues both inside and outside the shop.
The prosecutor said that Mayo "pumps his fist and appears angry and aggressive," during the incident.
He also said that Mayo spat at the police officers who attended several times.
"You may think is in an agitated state," the prosecutor said to the jury, "He can now be seen pointing and shouting at police officers.
Mr Freeman tangles with the man we believe to be the proprietor. Taking his phone pushing him."
One of the men, Calvin Campbell, who had already admitted his part in the affray "vaults the counter, gets a basket of chips, whilst shouting and threatening at someone.
"Someone relieves him of the chips," Mr Warren said, "and he clambers back over the counter."
During the footage with food flying across Eastgate Street, the city seagulls are seen to swiftly descend and gorge themselves on the debris.
The court heard that police officers had deployed PAVA spray, a form of pepper spray, and Steven Young, representing Mayo, argued that his client had not received proper 'aftercare' as per guidelines for the use of the spray.
PC Jeffries-Jones said in cross examination: "He wasn't really in the mood for aftercare. He was quite aggressive. He didn't want to listen to us."
Chief Inspector Bourne told the jury: "There were at least another 12 persons trying to actively get in to the shop."
He said he believed they were trying to 'fight or carry out damage' and: "I pulled my PAVA spray. I thought it would be a useful tactic to calm. It was quite a difficult situation.
"You would hope that police presence would mean people would walk away, calm down walk away. A few people did calm and walk away."
Chief Inspector Bourne told the jury about his interaction with Mayo.
"He was a very large built male, bald head, horizontally striped t-shirt," the officer said, "I recall him swearing, using vile language. Making threats of violence.
"I had a genuine belief that if he got past me there would be serious violence in the kebab shop.
"I also believed he would assault me or my staff.
"I warned him at least twice perhaps three times, PAVA in my hand. Move away or you will be sprayed.
"I sprayed him in the face to prevent further disorder. It had that immediate effect.
"In about five seconds they immediately held their hands to their face. They moved away from that direct confined space."
At that point in his evidence, the case was adjourned for lunch, and no further evidence was heard as the judge discharged the case from proceeding any further.
All four defendants will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Constabulary said: "Our criminal justice department has been informed about this incident and has liaised with the CPS about the issue.
"We will be receiving what happened and taking all necessary action to ensure it doesn't happen again."
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