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£3,000 court case over 50p pillow

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 03, 2012

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A FURIOUS Swansea dad was taken to court for ripping a 50p pillow to shreds while he was in a police cell.

Richard Lewis, 42, took his frustration out on the disposable pillow after being arrested by police on the day he lost his job.

Police watched on CCTV as Lewis grabbed the “custody pillow” off the bed in his cell and tore it into pieces.

Officers let him off the petty offence he was arrested for — but then charged him with criminal damage to the pillow.

The cost of taking him to court was yesterday estimated at £3,000, while the cost of the pillow was put at just 50p.

Father of two Lewis admitted criminal damage and was given a 12-month conditional discharge by magistrates at Llanelli.

Peter Martin, defending, said: “It was a particularly frustrating day for Mr Lewis — he had lost his job after 11 years with the same company.

“He was arrested at 9.30pm in relation to an allegation of criminal damage. By 6am next morning, he decided he had had enough and took out his frustrations on the pillow given to him by the police.

“Clearly these custody pillows are not given to be ripped up, but they are basically single-use items.”

The court heard pillows given to prisoners at the police station in Ammanford are similar to those handed out to passengers on long-haul flights.

Mr Martin added: “The police do not keep these pillows to reuse, but they are not there to be destroyed.

“Mr Lewis ripped the pillow to express his displeasure at still being in the cells nine hours after his arrest.”

The magistrates made no order for Lewis, formerly of Penybanc Road, Ammanford, to pay court costs or compensation for the ruined pillow.

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  • Whatkins_pc  |  December 19 2012, 6:45PM

    It was 24hrs they kept me in for and yes there was not enough evidence to charge me with the alleged original crime. I now have councelling for the severe depression that being mistreated by the law has brought on. I'm disgusted in being treated this way by the system and now feel i have no place in society and have tried to take my life on numerous occasions, I feel so worthless as a person.

  • tellyon  |  November 06 2012, 4:06PM

    Perhaps the police should focus on more important things... like um... investigating child abuse properly rather than letting the rich and powerful get away with it.

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  • maxmin  |  November 06 2012, 3:05PM

    Welshy, the only people who wasted time and money here are the police. If they didn't have enough evidence to charge him with the offence he was arrested for then he should have been released. What on earth was the purpose of keeping him locked up for nine hours? Let us put it another way, a few days ago we read about a person who had the windows of their car smashed - the police didn't bother to turn up probably because they were too busy seeing that someone didn't rip up a piece of paper before ditching it!

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  • welshsy  |  November 06 2012, 2:46PM

    So you get arrested for Criminal Damage where there may or may not be enough evidence to charge/convict and then you go and cause the exact same crime in the police cell? No matter how much the item was worth (in this case 50p) its the principal of what was done and it's only fair that people are taught a lesson, therefore not doing the same thing in the future (hopefully) therefore not wasting anymore police time!!

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  • maxmin  |  November 06 2012, 12:52PM

    Hacker I'm afraid it is you who is missing the point. He was not charged with the first offence probably because there was not enough evidence to convict him. They continued to hold him in a cell hoping he would do something they could charge him with, and then pounced on this ridiculous waste of time and money. It is not unknown for police officers to irritate and aggravate members of the public in the hope they will get so frustrated they might raise their voice and thus lay themselves open to a Breach of the Peace charge. I've had it done to me, but when I produced a digital recorder and told them I was recording what was said and how they both took to their heels. Not so long ago I had a police officer trespass on my land and make threats against me, I ordered him off and he then threatened to charge me with breach of the peace. I called my neighbour out as a witness and then invited the officer to carry out his threat and arrest me. He turned around and walked off. There are many, many police officers out there who work very hard to give the best possible service to members of the public, they use courtesy, tact and discretion to do their jobs effectively. Unfortunately there is also a small minority who seem to think the way to behave is to shout and intimidate and rack up lots of 'easy collars'. Believe me the decent serving officers hate them as much as the public. Unless the police do something to root out these bullies they will lose the one thing they cannot do without - the support of the law abiding public.

  • SWEPuser001  |  November 05 2012, 5:27PM

    Well I suppose it's nice to see the pointless police actually doing something for once, rather than get out on the streets and doing something useful. Something that actually matters, like cars speeding, drivers using their mobiles, illegal silencers, parking on double yellows and zigzags. All quite normal here in Clydach and up to Pontardawe.. Ooh it's cold and dark! Drivers with no lights? How would I know? I'm still in bed, or in my nice warm office.

  • hacker_jack  |  November 05 2012, 3:01PM

    siarad, first off that's a method that's been used ever since the police was formed, look up Al Capone's tax returns. Secondly, The point here isn't that another offence was found, it was that there were two offences, one was easy to prove, the second less so (I would guess as it happened in somewhere other than a locked cell), charging him with both would not have lead to any harsher a sentence, thus it would have been a waste of time and money to do so and was thus dropped. Without the pillow offence he would still have been charged, the costs still incurred and probably a lot more of them. A strange case yes but ultimately the decision likely saved money.

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  • siarad2  |  November 05 2012, 12:03PM

    @hacker_jack Whoa that's a very dangerous slippery slope. Can't catch a 'suspected only' murderer as it's expensive & difficult to prove so get him for exceeding the speed limit by 2 mph or being drunk or closing a car's wing mirror to get past. Dirt cheap & easy to prove & can be repeated

  • hacker_jack  |  November 05 2012, 11:31AM

    I see everyone is missing the point again. The fact is that the guy was arrested for a reason, the police wanted to charge him for that, which would have cost a lot more than £3,000 in court fees to process. However whilst in custody he did something stupid which gave them a second offence that was far easier to prove and thus LESS costly to the public. The police got the correct result, a conviction for criminal damage. If he had not ripped the pillow he would have been charged for the first offence instead, which would have cost more.

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 05 2012, 7:42AM

    maxmin your becoming boring again, I hold out the worm and u bite every time, I love u really. Your such fun ha ha ha ha

    |   -7