Police facing legal action from blind man

Blind man John Hammond at Peterborough mags court  for assaulting a police officer. He pleaded not guilty.
Blind man John Hammond at Peterborough mags court for assaulting a police officer. He pleaded not guilty.
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A BLIND March man is threatening to take action against police officers who accused him of causing a public nuisance and assaulting an officer.

John Hammond, from Queen Street, is seeking legal advice after magistrates at Peterborough decided there was no case for him to answer and issued a statement highlighting concerns about evidence produced against the pensioner.

Mr Hammond was charged with the two offences back in May when he went to March Police Station to make a complaint following an incident in Station Road earlier in the day.

However, Mr Hammond found himself being arrested and kept in a police cell for more than five hours.

He had previously pleaded not guilty to the public order offence and also to assaulting Sergeant Williams and the case was heard at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court last Monday.

The court heard the prosecution case, including evidence from five police officers, before Mr Hammond’s defence solicitor Simon Nicholls from Norwich firm Belmores moved to have the case thrown out.

Mr Nicholls explained after the hearing that he had argued there was no case to answer after the court watched video evidence which appeared to totally vindicate Mr Hammond and throw a question mark over the behaviour of some police officers on the day of Mr Hammond’s arrest.

Mr Nicholls said the magistrates retired for lunch shortly after 1pm after he’d made his case and they returned at 2.15pm to announce they agreed there was no case to answer.

He said: “This wasn’t simply a case of the magistrates hearing both sides and then deciding Mr Hammond was innocent, they didn’t even bother with the defence case they simply threw the whole thing out.

“The magistrates were really quite scathing and basically found the prosecution evidence had been discredited. In other words the prosecution evidence was so unreliable and contradictory they threw the case out. In fairness this was a brilliant result for Mr Hammond.”

Mr Hammond, who is registered blind and has a Guide Dog, is furious that he has had to go through a court case but was jubilant that magistrates ordered the police to pay his costs which were well over £4,000.

“It is a total disgrace. The case has probably cost the public in the region of £20,000,” said Mr Hammond, who said he is now looking to take legal action himself.

“I will not let this rest. I have been completely vindicated. I have tried to contact the police authority to talk about this but so far no one is willing to discuss it.

“I want to know what they are going to do about the officers who gave evidence against me. I was locked in a police cell for five hours with a dangerously high sugar level and no one was bothered about me - I could have died,” said Mr Hammond.

“I tell you this is not going to go away. If they want to talk to me then I will listen - that is the most satisfactory way to resolve the issue but if not then I will whatever action is necessary.”

No police comment was forthcoming at the time of going to press.