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calendar   Sunday - June 29, 2008

Former soldier, charged for making a citizens arrest:  A MUST READ PEOPLE! JUST UNBELIEVABLE.

I read this story Sunday morning, all of it.  It’s just plain incredible what our world has come to.
Of course, incredible or not, it isn’t surprising.  There really doesn’t seem to be anything that the powers that be are willing to do.
The thugs get younger and stronger and bolder and why shouldn’t they be bold?  What have they to fear?  Apparently, not a thing.
And when even the parents who can help won’t, what does that say for the future?

Read all about it!

By Adam Lusher
Last Updated: 12:11AM BST 29/06/2008

When a former soldier made a citizen’s arrest, he ended up being charged, then intimidated. Now he has lost all faith in justice.

Maria McCourt makes an unlikely gangster’s moll. Many might see her as a suburban grandmother, a data-input clerk happy with a life she describes as: “Very quiet, boring, really – just how I like it.”

Her bespectacled husband, Frank, looks like the former soldier he is, and he is proud to earn his living delivering and fitting oxygen masks for the seriously ill. The McCourts might seem like people who are likely to be on the police’s side. They were, once.

Their nervousness betrays a different story. It shows in Mrs McCourt’s antidepressants, in the pint Mr McCourt needs to steady his nerves before reliving the ordeal that “destroyed us both”.
When Mr McCourt, of Crawley, West Sussex, was confronted by youths hurling stones and threatening his wife, he thought he was within his rights to make a citizen’s arrest. Instead, police arrested the 56-year-old on suspicion of kidnapping. They treated the youths as traumatised witnesses.

They put Mr McCourt in a cell and charged him with assault. They let him live for months with the threat of a jail sentence until – after the intervention of a local MP – the Crown Prosecution Service decided that taking Mr McCourt to trial was “not in the public interest”.

Sitting in a front room full of family photographs and his wife’s ceramic ornaments, Mr McCourt has his freedom but, he says, “a little bit of me has been destroyed forever – the bit that believed in British justice, that thought I would get help when I needed it, instead of being betrayed.”

And as Mr McCourt tells his story, it does indeed seem hard not to fear what it might reveal about modern British justice.

To his neighbours, he is a hero. They had been preparing placards and planned to demonstrate outside the crown court during his trial. The police, they say, were of little use against antisocial behaviour.

Mr McCourt claims that the police were also of little use when, a fortnight after his preliminary court appearance, dog excrement was smeared on his van. “When I phoned, they said ‘We’ll give you a crime number’. That was it.”

When the intimidation continued, with a night-time call from men challenging him to a fight, the police did at least visit. Three-and-a-half hours after the men had left.

Mrs McCourt, 59, is politely incredulous at suggestions that the police might defend them. “They are extremely nice to your face,” she says. “Then they look around and think, ‘Who’s the easiest one to charge?’ We call it back-to-front Britain: the hard-working, honest people are sent to the back. The yobs go to the front of the queue.”

The McCourts’ questioning of British justice began on Sunday, February 17, with the thump of something hitting their window as they ate their evening meal. Mr McCourt emerged to see two 10-year-olds throwing stones at cars and houses.

“I asked them what they were doing. They called me an effing B, an effing C. One of them started kicking me in the legs. Maria told me to leave it, so I just said to them, ‘If you do this again, you are going to be in serious trouble.’ ”

He pauses only to note that, in another age, if his son, Marc, now 36, had behaved similarly as a child, “I would have taken him straight to the neighbours to apologise”.

Instead, Maria phoned him the next day at 3pm. “She could barely talk for crying. When I got home, she told me she had gone to walk the dogs [Tommy, Wesley and Bubbles, the couple’s small papillons].

“The two kids from the night before had come up behind her with about six others. They were prodding the dogs with sticks and saying they were going to kill them. The dogs were terrified. So was Maria.”

Mr McCourt shepherded his wife into his car as the youths hurled abuse from the end of the street, and drove her to her afternoon work shift. “They were still there when I returned, throwing whatever they could get their hands on. They put me through two hours of hell.”

He tried to find a beat bobby. There wasn’t one. “I didn’t ring 999,” he says, “because I didn’t think it was a big enough incident. I didn’t want to upset the emergency services.”

Instead, he tried phoning the antisocial behaviour “hotline” number he found in a council leaflet. “It just rang for 45 minutes. No answer, no hold music, no Greensleeves.”

(yeah, some hotline. The number is 101 and is almost useless.  What they do is take your name and addrss and the nature of your call and they log it.  That’s IT!  Then if you have to call again for the very same problem from the very same source, there’s a record of the complaint on file.  As Drew is fond of saying, Woo-Hoo. That’ll scare the little bastards, huh?)

At about 6.45pm, Mr McCourt made his fateful decision. Exploiting a lull, he slipped out of his house and round the corner. “The two 10 year-olds were beating a waste bin with sticks. I got one of them by the front of his shirt. I didn’t hurt him. I just told him, ‘You are under citizen’s arrest’.”

He marched the swearing youngster back to his house. “I told him: ‘I am not going to harm you, but I want to contact your family and the police.’ He said he was asthmatic and asked for an aspirin. Of course I fetched a tablet.”

The boy’s friend summoned a relative, who phoned the police. There was just time for the young detainee’s mother to arrive. “I offered to explain, but she was swearing as badly as her son, so I let him go. He walked to his mother calling me an effing C.” Then two police officers arrived.

“You know what?” says Mr McCourt. “I even thanked them for coming.” The officers spoke to him, then the boys. “They said, ‘There’s been a serious allegation. We must investigate. We are arresting you for kidnapping.’ I thought they were joking.” They took him to Crawley police station to be bailed, then drove him home to a wife who was “in floods of tears”.

See More Below The Fold

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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 06/29/2008 at 12:50 PM   
Filed Under: • CrimeOutrageousUK •  
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