Plymouth landlord claims lack of justice after case is dropped
A PUBLICAN who claims he has been the victim of crime a number of times in the past year has asked “where’s the justice?” after prosecutors dropped the latest case.
Tam Macpherson, who runs The Clipper in Union Street said: “I’ve been the victim of an arson attack, I’ve had a burglary, I’ve had a customer Tasered in my premises.
“These all took place in the lead up to my licence review about perceived problems with my bar.
“In all three cases I have had concerns about the decisions made by police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
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“The person who admitted trying to set fire to the pub, while I was asleep upstairs, walked away with a caution.
“The man arrested and charged with burgling my property had the case against him dropped by the CPS who said there was not enough evidence to convince a jury, despite him admitting he took money, tobacco and drinks worth a total of £2,000.”
Mr Macpherson’s complaint about a man who was Tasered and arrested in his bar – on suspicion of robbery – is currently being investigated by Devon and Cornwall Police.
The man who was Tasered was later released with no further action to be taken against him.
Mr Macpherson said: “When something happens in my premises, the police come down on me like a ton of bricks and I have to face licence reviews.
“But when I am the repeat victim of crime, no-one is brought to court. Where’s the justice?
“We hear all too often more and more cases resulting in rough justice for the victim, the witnesses and businesses.”
In April police applied to have The Clipper shut down over concerns about crime and disorder in or near the premises but Plymouth City Council’s licensing committee rejected their plea, instead placing more conditions on the licence.
The committee ordered Mr Macpherson to have one registered door supervisor on duty after 2am and two on duty from 4am until the pub closes, seven days a week.
It also ordered Mr Macpherson to ensure police had his mobile and landline phone numbers.
The Herald has learned a senior police officer wrote to Mr Macpherson about the burglary, admitting that investigators did not agree with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decision to not prosecute the alleged burglar and felt the case should continue.
However, in a letter to Mr Macpherson they said they recognised that the final decision lay with the CPS.
A police spokesman said: “Police carried out a thorough investigation into Mr Macpherson’s burglary and a suspect was arrested and charged.
“However the CPS in reviewing the evidence decided not to proceed to Court and we must abide by that decision.”
In response, CPS district crown prosecutor Kathy Taylor said: “Before proceeding with a prosecution, the CPS must review every case in line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which states that there must be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. Without sufficient evidence a prosecution cannot be brought.
“In this case, we were required to prove to the court that the defendant entered the public house as a trespasser with the intent to steal the property. The original witness statement we received provided this evidence.
“However, the witness later changed their evidence. This meant we could no longer rely on her evidence. The only evidence then available was CCTV which showed the defendant entering the public house in the absence of Mr Macpherson and taking property, for which he offered an explanation when interviewed.
“The CPS sought the views of the police, who disagreed with our decision not to prosecute but although I considered their representations, I still felt this was the right decision.”
“While the police and CPS sometimes disagree about individual cases we work closely together to bring offenders to justice
“The burden on the prosecution is to prove a case ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. This is a high standard. The reviewing prosecutor assessed the remaining evidence and found that there was now a doubt.
“I wrote to Mr Macpherson on 16 May to explain our decision and Tracy Easton, deputy chief crown prosecutor for the South West has also written to him offering further explanation of the prosecution process.
“I understand that Mr Macpherson is unhappy with the decision. However it is vital that we consider every case in line with the Code and where it fails to meet the evidential criteria we must not proceed with a prosecution, no matter how serious the case may be.”