Judge slams police over drugs case

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A FURIOUS family say they have been through 11 months of hell after being accused of dealing crack cocaine.

Peter, Elizabeth and Mark Jenkins were arrested after 23 wraps of the Class A drug were found in a house they were about to move into.

Police raided the family’s home in Raby Road, Hartlepool, with a drugs warrant on March 3 last year, but found nothing.

Then dad-of-two Peter told officers he was moving in a few days time, saying: “You can search that one too, and you’ll find nothing there either.”

Yet when police investigated the new address in the same road they found the crack cocaine in a cupboard.

Peter was arrested straight away and then his partner, mum-of-five Elizabeth, 41, and her son Mark, 23, were also hauled into the police station and charged.

But their crown court cases were dropped by Judge Peter Fox, who slammed the police and the Crown Prosecution Service as “wholly unprofessional” for charging the trio due to a lack of forensic evidence.

Peter, 52, told the Mail: “We have been through hell. No-one believed that we hadn’t done it.”

They had faced accusations of possessing a Class A drug with the intent to supply, but no evidence was offered at Teesside Crown Court when all three pleaded not guilty.

Police say they sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) throughout and the case was only stopped when “further information came to light which meant that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction”.

Peter, a former security guard, added: “We have fallen out with our family and people have been ignoring us. I’ve only ever been in trouble for traffic offences so this was a bit of a shock.

“They said they’d found some drugs and arrested me. I didn’t know anything about them or what was going on. We know nothing about drugs.

“Now we want to get back on with our lives and put it all behind us.”

It took 11 months for their ordeal to finally come to an end when their cases were dismissed at the crown court.

During that time, Peter was in and out of hospital three times with chronic lung disease and also had a bout of pneumonia.

Prosecuting Richard Parsell told Teesside Crown Court that there was no forensic evidence to link the family with the drugs, but the police took the decision to charge them all anyway.

Judge Fox said: “It’s disgraceful, wholly unprofessional on the part of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.”

He told the family: “You should never have been charged in the first place.”

A Cleveland Police spokeswoman, also speaking on behalf of the CPS said: “This matter was investigated by Cleveland Police and charging advice was sought from the CPS in June and October 2011, when action plans were agreed.

“On October 25, 2011, the decision to charge all three was taken by the CPS, however all cases are subject to continuous review.

“After the magistrates committed the case to the crown court, on January 10, 2012, for trial, further information came to light which meant that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction, and the decision was taken to stop the case.”