Holly seller beaten up by police wins appeal.

Posted: February 13, 2010 in Law & Disorder

A street seller battered, sprayed & arrested by police on Christmas Eve for selling holly without a licence in Eastbourne town centre has won his appeal.

IlieThe judge ruled that there was no case to answer as the policeman was acting beyond the scope of his duty when he demanded the man’s name and address when questioned about street trading without a pedlar’s licence by a council official at 1pm on Christmas Eve 2008,

Ex-Royal Marine Paul Douglas, 46, of Hampden Park refused to give his personal details and the police were called.

A crowd of shoppers gathered and watched as they saw a Christmas elf being pinned face-down to the pavement of Terminus Road by policeman, PC Stephen Kimber, sprayed with type of pepper spray, hit with a baton and handcuffed.

The man spent the afternoon and evening of Christmas Eve in a police cell before being interviewed and charged with obstructing a police officer. He denied the offence but, after a trial, was convicted, fined £200 and ordered to pay £100 costs.

When Mr Douglas, a biology graduate, first appeared before Eastbourne magistrates, he wore red fluffy trousers and his elf-costume fleece top (he was told he should not wear a Christmas pudding hat in court). At the appeal hearing at Brighton Crown Court, which concluded on Friday (February 5), he left his elf costume at home as he was ‘advised not to dress like that on this occasion’.

The prosecution read out a transcript of the police interview which concluded with Mr Douglas saying to the police interviewer, “Happy Christmas, my lad, he had to baton me did he?”
Mr Douglas’s defence argued that there was no case to answer as PC Kimber was ‘acting outside the scope of his duty’.
Citing case law, his barrister argued that people have a social duty and not a legal duty to give personal details if not under arrest. She also said that Mr Douglas had shown no indication that he would run away when PC Kimber put up his hand to Mr Douglas’s chest.

Recorder Antony Chinn QC, sitting with two magistrates, agreed that there was no case to answer.

Mr Douglas said he received bruises, including an eight inch mark on his left upper thigh and internal injuries that required him to go the Eastbourne District General hospital at 4am on Boxing Day. He said the Captor spray used caused a unpleasant reaction and said he was left gurgling as he was pinned to the floor.

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