24th Mar, 2019

Police launch review after accusations of withholding evidence

Ian Hughes 18th Feb, 2018

POLICE have launched a review after being accused of withholding evidence in a collapsed court case.

Rugby resident Paul Baden had a case of harassment dropped after his solicitor complained repeated requests to see phone evidence were ignored by Warwickshire Police.

Mr Baden had pleaded not guilty to harassing his former partner by constantly calling her and sending her texts and messages.

The 56-year-old appeared before magistrates in Leamington to stand trial on the charge and a further allegation of causing criminal damage to a lock belonging to his ex.

With the trial due to start, the magistrates were told there was an issue relating to Mr Baden’s phone, which was seized from him following his arrest.

His solicitor Peter Gotch explained the background.

He said the couple had decided to buy a house together. Mr Baden put in £30,000 and his former partner £40,000 – but they split up and she moved out soon afterwards, and it was decided the house would be sold and the proceeds shared.

But last August, she locked herself in and when he came back, she phoned the police, and officers arrived and arrested him.

She then said he had been messaging her, and the police took photographs of her phone, and the messages she said were “unpleasant” – although there were no threats in them.

Mr Gotch added: “What the police did not do is they did not carry out a fair and impartial assessment (of the messages). They only took photographs of the ones she showed them.

“He was bailed with a condition not to return to his home. She had somehow managed to put the house in her own name, and also his flat in her name, so since August he has been living in his car.”

Mr Gotch said Mr Baden was charged, and at the first court date in September he ‘got quite angry’ and accused the prosecution of perverting the course of justice on the grounds they had taken away his defence by seizing his phone on which there were all the messages exchanged between him and Miss Berriman.

After further court appearances and failed calls for the phone to be handed over, Mr Gotch argued the trial could not go ahead and the prosecution should not be allowed any further adjournment – at which point the prosecutor told the court he would discontinue the case against Mr Baden.

Warwickshire Police told the Observer a review had been launched following the accusations.

Chi Insp Andrew Reynolds said: “We are aware of the concerns raised in respect to this case and will be carrying out a full review of how it was handled and speaking to the officers involved. Where we identify areas for improvement, we will ensure this happens.

“We are committed to making full disclosure of all relevant evidence to defence teams; this is vital to ensuring justice is done and the public has confidence in the police and criminal justice system.”

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