Banned teenager invited back to Middleton Grange after outcry

Jake Fielding.
Jake Fielding.

A TEENAGER’S year-long shopping complex ban has been overturned in a dramatic U-turn by centre bosses.

Jake Fielding Smith was slapped with a 12-month exclusion from Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, in Hartlepool, after bosses accused him of “acting suspiciously”.

But after scores of people commented on the Mail’s website about the story, centre manager Mark Rycraft arranged a meeting with Jake – who is due to join the Royal Navy next month as a marine diver – and discussed the situation with him.

And as a result, the ban has been reversed and the 19-year-old is now allowed to return.

Mr Rycraft told the Mail: “I sat down with Jake to go through the allegations made by the store two months ago and why the ban was imposed.

“We pointed out that Middleton Grange adheres to Cleveland Police’s Operation Respect, which is aimed at making the shopping centre a safe environment and has cut shoplifting by over a quarter.

“We are satisfied that this is now the end of the matter and Jake’s ban has been lifted.”

Jake, who admitted that he has driving convictions on his record from five years ago, said: “I went for a meeting with the boss of the centre and they’ve lifted it basically. I said that I thought I was well within my rights to go to a solicitor and they dropped it straight away.

“They also tried to suggest that I was removing tags from the clothes in New Look, but I said to them that they should check the cameras and then they’d see I haven’t done anything wrong.”

He added: “I’m glad it’s all over and that I got a result. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

The ban was issued after Jake, a former High Tunstall School pupil, had been on a trip around the complex with a female friend.

The pair had been twice in and out of clothing store, New Look, because his friend was indecisive about a dress she liked. They were then confronted by four guards as they left another fashion shop, Internationale.

Jake, of Hood Close, King Oswy, said they were escorted to a fire escape where they were accused of trying to steal before being issued with a written ban.

It was then that Jake, a former High Tunstall College of Science pupil, got angry and admits that while remonstrating with the guards and two police community support officers, he used several swear words.