Thursday, 16 April 2009

In the temporary absence of Mad Priest over the border


A MAN spent almost a week in prison after he was arrested for picking up a ticket left on a train. Abidrashid Abdilaahi returned the ticket he found on a table when confronted by the guard and bought his own. But he was still arrested at Nottingham Station and spent six days in prison after police failed to book a translator for his first court appearance.

Nottingham magistrates released Abdilaahi, 41, on Tuesday after sentencing him to one day in custody for theft. He pleaded guilty to the charge. Abdilaahi's solicitor Dean Bower said he had been punished more than enough for a trivial offence. "This is not a serious offence," said Mr Bower. "The ticket was returned to its owner moments after it was taken. All that happened was he was walking through the carriage looking for a seat, glanced down, noticed the ticket and picked it up. He did not know if it was valid or not and did not intend to use it. He was then sold a valid ticket to Chesterfield, even though the person who sold him that ticket was making arrangements to have him arrested at Nottingham."

Transport police interviewed Abdilaahi with an interpreter because his English was poor. They then decided to keep him in custody, but failed to book the interpreter for court the next day. Magistrates had no choice but to adjourn his case because Abdilaahi could not understand what was going on. No Somalian interpreter could be booked until after the Easter Bank Holiday on Tuesday – after Abdilaahi spent six days at Lincoln Prison.

A spokesman for British Transport Police said an interpreter was present when Abdilaahi was charged on Thursday morning. "It was our understanding that there would be an interpreter in court," he said.

Abdilaahi, of Mere Road, Leicester, is originally from Somalia, but is a Dutch national with the legal right to work in the UK. He is a cleaner at Leicester Royal Infirmary. His lawyer says Abdilaahi is in poor health and was not given his usual medication until he had been in prison for five days. "He is poor," Mr Bower said. "And six days of incarceration have already cost him approximately a week's wages, although fortunately he believes his job will still be there for him."
Magistrates released Abdilaahi immediately. He was not asked to pay usual prosecution costs of £70.

The defendant saluted the magistrates and repeatedly thanked them as he was led out of the dock.

It is the police's responsibility to book interpreters for a defendant's first court appearance as it usually takes place within 24 hours of them being charged at a police station. Sanchia Wheeler, a civil litigation lawyer at Nottingham-based law firm Cartwright King, said: "Police officers are human and do make mistakes. However, care has to be taken where it is clear that such errors can lead to the unnecessary custody of persons and deprive them of their liberty. I feel that the officers have to answer for their actions and he deserves an apology and compensation at the very least. There should be a process in place to ensure that matters such as booking an interpreter are confirmed before their attendance at court."

A spokesperson for East Midlands Trains said: "We are working hard to prevent ticket-less travel on our trains and have already introduced a number of initiatives to prevent anybody travelling without a ticket, such as the introduction of more ticket vending machines at stations and educating passengers through posters at stations.
In addition, we will be introducing automatic ticket gates at a number of our key stations this year."

Oh - that's all right then ....

1 comment:

  1. Ohhh, in the US of A, there would have been a lawyer outside the gaol waiting to sue the county police, and the county for thousands in the name of a Somali ex pat.