Woman not guilty of drinking offence after police officer threw away key piece of evidence
PUBLISHED: 18:00 19 October 2018
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A woman has been found not guilty of breaching an order prohibiting her from having an open alcohol container in public after a police officer threw her can of drink in the bin rather than having it tested.
Tracey Slade, 46, of Stephenson Close, Great Yarmouth, was arrested on September 1 after she was reportedly spotted verbally abusing a person in Northgate Street at around 11.40am.
Ms Slade, who has a criminal behaviour order (CBO) which prevents her from drinking in public, was hiding something behind her back when police arrived, Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday.
The officer on the scene, PC Jodie Jennings, gave evidence via video link, and said she asked Ms Slade to reveal what she was holding.
When she showed her it was a lager can, PC Jennings called control to check the terms of her CBO.
When it was confirmed that she was not allowed to have an open alcohol container in public, PC Jennings arrested Ms Slade - only for Slade to call her a ‘tart’.
PC Jennings was asked by Stacie Cossey, prosecuting, if she had checked the contents of the container.
PC Jennings said she had not for ‘health and safety reasons’ and had then thrown the can in the bin. However, she said Ms Slade smelled of alcohol.
But Calvin Saker, defending Ms Slade, said that meant there was no way the court could be sure it was lager in the can.
He said: “The officer specifically said she did not sniff the can.
“But she binned the can so we might never know what it was in there.
“To prove the case you must be sure that it was not only open, but its contents were alcohol.”
Ms Slade did not appear in court, but denied charges of breaching a criminal behaviour order by using foul, offensive, abusive or threatening language, and having an open container of alcohol in a public place, which she was prohibited from doing.
And Pierre Butikofer, lead magistrate, said magistrates agreed there was no case to answer on either count.
“We feel that the word ‘tart’, is not a word that is abusive or causes alarm or distress.
“Also, the police should have bagged the evidence. It would have been really easy to then confirm what the contents of the can were.
“Therefore, we found the defendant not guilty on both counts,” he said.