Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Police Need More Training To Spot False Accusers

Rather a long post this one but it is well worth a read so please bear with me dear readers.

Police Scotland in the north-east have increased their efforts to help victims of domestic abuse including working closely with victim support groups.

Detective Sergeant Drew Sharp said, "Our officers are trained to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and to work with partners to ensure victims receive the support and protection they deserve."

This is welcome news.

And I believe DS Sharp's efforts should be an example to all and rolled out all over the country, not just in the north-east. Domestic abusers are a scourge and their behaviour is unacceptable in any civilised society.

I just wish the increased training and resources being spent helping Police Scotland officers to recognise domestic abusers would be extended...to include training police how to spot FALSE ACCUSERS - people who just want to cause trouble for their ex partners.

You see, just like domestic abusers, false accusers are also the scourge of society. Not only do they cause immeasurable damage to the lives and reputations of the innocent people they falsely accuse, they also waste time and money as police divert resources from other areas of crime detection in order to pursue their vindictive and baseless accusations.

I know. Because I was the innocent victim of a false accuser.

As regular readers of this blog know, I NEVER shy away from standing up for what's right, fair, and just. So when I was faced with a false accusation of stalking from a disgruntled ex girlfriend, I did what any decent, honest, innocent person would do - I demanded we go to trial.

I took on the Crown office and my false accuser in court - and I won.

To this day I thank God that I had the strength and courage to take on my false accuser and her lies in a court of law. I know many others who don't have the robustness of character that I have to stand up for truth and justice and would have caved in under the pressure of facing such a charge and a criminal trial - and that's not right.

Anyway, the end result was that I won a decisive victory and my false accuser, ex girlfriend Mhairi McAdam, had her lies exposed in a very public way in a court of law.

It turns out she had accused her previous boyfriend of stalking her too.

So why did the false accuser do it?

Well, we may never know her entire motives exactly and I'm sure there are probably many disgruntled ex girlfriends out there who have tried to make trouble for their ex boyfriends for all sorts of different reasons. But what we do know is that she was able to disappear with around £5,000 of my property by making the false accusation. So, in my case, money would seem to have been at the heart of her false accusation.

When you consider that her false accusation - had it been successful - carried a prison sentence of up to one year in jail, I'd say that the £5,000 she made was a pretty insignificant amount in comparison to such serious consequences. Ahhh, the greed and vindictiveness of a disgruntled ex partner.

Thankfully her story was not believed in court and my innocence was proven.

The case was promptly thrown out with a 'no case to answer'. When throwing out the case, Sheriff Douglas Brown stated "Mr Campbell should never have been brought before a criminal court" and agreed that this was nothing more than a property dispute between a couple splitting up and belonged in a civil court.

Sheriff Brown also stated that "The only abuse in this case has come from the complainer".

That's pretty damning words from a Sheriff at a trial if ever I heard them. As well as leaving absolutely no doubt whatsoever as to my innocence, it also heaped scathing criticism on to my false accuser. I would also add that Procurator Fiscal Calum Forsyth didn't come out exactly smelling of roses in this whole debacle either but that's another story for another post.

So how did the false accusation get as far as a court room and a trial?

How did the police and Crown office manage to get it all so wrong?

And why didn't they stop when they realised they'd got it all wrong?

This is where the story get's rather long so please bear with me.

You see, it all started with a simple property dispute between my false accuser and I over two properties we jointly owned. It was a simple 'civil law' matter which all couples who own property together go through when they separate. Here in Scotland you draft a document known as a 'minute of separation' (commonly referred to as a 'separation agreement') and it details how your joint assets are to be split. We couldn't agree on how the properties should be divided. Nothing unusual in that though - most couples disagree on who get's what when they separate.

But trouble flared up when my false accuser took it upon herself to change the locks on BOTH the properties we owned and decided she wanted to reside in both properties and keep all the contents of both for herself. Yip, she wanted two houses, two coffee tables, two dishwashers, two sets of knives and forks, etc etc. She wanted the lot, everything.

As if that wasn't bad enough, she did all this before any separation agreement had even been reached between us. She had no legal right to do this and no legal right to exclude me from my properties.

So there was I, the owner of TWO houses, left with nowhere to live (and her keeping all my stuff in to the bargain)!

Now you don't have to be a genius to work out that if a couple have separated and they own two houses, then it would make sense for one to live in one house and the other to live in the other house - simple. Yes, I know, there may be a bit of debating over who gets to stay in which house, but, in general, it should be a fairly simple situation to work out. I'm sure most couples going through a separation would be absolutely delighted to be in a situation where they owned two houses and could have one each - that's got to be better than having to play out their separation while still living together under the one roof! It makes things an awful lot easier (or so it should).

Except my false accuser wanted to live in both properties - she wanted to live in our luxury flat in the city centre (near her workplace) Mondays to Fridays, and then live in our bungalow in the suburbs at the weekends. I obviously refused to agree to this ridiculous arrangement, therefore she changed the locks on BOTH properties so that she had exclusive use of both whether I liked it or not. Presumably I was expected to sleep on the streets.

I called my solicitor at the time and asked for legal advice on the situation and was told she had no right denying me access to my houses and contents and if she refused to give me keys to the new locks she'd fitted I should make a forced entry i.e. drill through the locks.

Of course I didn't just barge over to my house with a drill in my hand (although I'm sure many people knowing they were within their legal rights to do so would have done just that). No. Before I did anything at all, I first asked police for their advice on how best to handle this situation and, on their advice, I ensured that she was not present at the property before drilling through the locks. The police officers I spoke to wisely suggested this would be the most appropriate course of action so as to avoid any confrontation with her. I just wanted my stuff and to take up residence in one of my properties.

But alas, that's not how my false accuser spun the story to the police she spoke to after I had drilled the locks.

Instead, she walked in to Bellshill police station, spouted a pile of untruths to a female officer with a sympathetic ear, made up a cock-and-bull sob story about not feeling safe to sleep in her bed at night in case Wee Willie Winkie with his Black & Decker should come a-calling etc. Complete nonsense of course, but she really laid it on thick.

And as you can guess, instead of checking out her story, our bold boys (and girls) in blue leapt in to action - without bothering to check her statement to see if what she was saying was actually true. Within hours I was sporting a lovely shiny pair of handcuffs as bracelets. It must have been a slow news day that day I guess.

It possibly didn't help matters that around that time the then Chief Constable Stephen House was on a bit of a mission to clean up the mean streets of Glasgow before the upcoming Commonwealth Games and had instructed all officers to throw anyone and everyone with a domestic element to complaints against them in to the slammer, no questions asked. He even used buses to transport 'doms' (police speak for people arrested on domestic complaints) all the way over from Edinburgh to Glasgow because the cells in Edinburgh were bursting at the seams with so many 'doms'.

So it seems I wasn't the only innocent person who, around this time, found himself banged up in a jail cell by police for absolutely nothing.

Even the Lord Advocate was in on the game around this time and instructed all his Procurator Fiscals not to drop any charges with a domestic element to them even if there was no chance of a conviction! Astounding.

Either way, the upshot of it all was that I, an innocent man, found myself wrongly arrested by police, spent the weekend in a police cell, and was paraded in front of the local Sheriff on the Monday to face a false charge from a disgruntled ex girlfriend who's statement police had never bothered to check.

My whole point here is that if police had been better trained to spot false accusers and to investigate and check statements for discrepancies, my false accuser would have been given a stern talking to by police and promptly shown the door the minute she tried to make her false statement - and I would never have had to go through the humiliation and ordeal of being detained and arrested by police, put in jail for 3 days (Fri-Mon), and a year of my life spent waiting for a trial to prove my innocence. 

An awful lot of damage and expense could have been avoided from all sides if only police had bothered to actually investigate the claims she made to them at the time instead of rushing to arrest. It wasn't as if the case was complicated - it didn't need Sherlock Holmes to figure out that this was a simple property dispute, not a domestic dispute.

All police had to do was apply the most simple basic checks to the statement she gave to them to see if what she said was actually true or not - and they would have very easily seen that it was...well...not true!

It wasn't as if police even had to wait to interview or speak to me to get the proper way of the story - there were so many lies on her statement that could easily have been disproved right there and then, in the police station, at the time.

If police had just simply asked her to back up the claims in her statement she couldn't have done it.

But they didn't even ask.

As my Member of the Scottish Parliament John Mason later said to me, "It's an all too common problem. Police are far too quick to rush to detain". How correct he is.

Police don't realise (or care) about the damage they do.

This rush to detain is a serious failing of Police Scotland. Police Scotland in general are, at best lazy, and at worst incompetent. Older and retired officers I speak to are horrified at what goes on in Police Scotland today. Police just don't investigate things any more.

I'm sure a shrinking budget and lack of resources may be part of the problem but this alone doesn't excuse the apathy of our police.

Nowadays, instead of investigating properly as they should, police just form an opinion of who they think the 'baddie' is and run with it, cobbling together any evidence they can find along the way which may help to support their opinion.

When the evidence is flimsy - as is often the case, especially when they've got the wrong guy - the police 'bury' all other evidence that may show the person to be innocent. They hide everything and anything that could possibly show the person they want to arrest in a good light in order to try and tip the balance of the flimsy evidence they want to use against him more in the police's favour.

Having done a sloppy job, they then throw their 'report' and the so-called evidence over to the Procurator Fiscals office for them to sort out and hope there's enough good stuff in there to squeeze a conviction out of it.

It's quick, it works reasonably well most of the time, and it saves police having to spend time properly investigating things.

But this is essentially why mistakes happen - often with devastating consequences.

For example, in her statement to police, my false accuser painted me out to be some sort of 'baddie' who took all the money out of our joint bank account and left her penniless. She was lying of course. I did not. But the incompetent and lazy investigating officer (take a bow PC Susan Glendinning) was quick to form an opinion that I must be a 'baddie'. Had PC Glendinning actually bothered to ask my false accuser to show her the bank statement to support this accusation, she would have seen that when we separated as a couple and split our finances I withdrew less than half the money from the joint bank account and actually left Ms Mcadam the lions-share of the money. Instead of me being a 'baddie', I had actually been more than honest, decent, and fair with Ms Mcadam.

Making a simple and basic check on the facts would have revealed this.

Just as crucial, this simple check alone would have revealed that Ms Mcadam was lying and would then have been enough to ring alarm bells with police that something wasn't right and prompt them to scrutinise more carefully the other parts of her statement too and the truth would've been outed.

But police didn't do even the most basic of checks.

Her lies to police continued.

In one of her other, more bizarre, accusations on her false statement she lied that I had been driving up and down the street and staring at the house i.e. stalking her. There were no witnesses to this (oh, there's a surprise eh)?! Only Ms McAdam's insistence that it happened and happened regularly. Of course the reason there were no witnesses is because it wasn't true - she made the whole thing up (and repeated it again under oath on court).

The astounding thing that made this particular lie and accusation really stand out to me was that at the time I was supposed to be driving up and down her street and staring at the house, I was 2,000 miles away in Spain.

I and all my friends and family had well distanced ourselves from Ms Mcadam and had minimal to no contact with her at all. I don't do Facebook or Twitter so she had really no way of knowing that I was in Spain at that time. In a nutshell, she didn't expect to be so easily caught out.

But the whole situation has a far more sinister side to it than just a disgruntled ex telling a few lies to police to make a few quid. It was very much pre-meditated to cause the maximum damage.

You see, Ms McAdam already knew how to go about making an stalking accusation because she had previous experience of doing it, having accused her previous boyfriend, before me, of stalking her too.

She knew that the drilling of the locks at my own house, to obtain my own possessions, was too shaky a reason on it's own for pursuing a 'fear or alarm' complaint. She knew it was impossible to make a Section 39 Stalking charge out of a perfectly legal forced entry to a house I owned, while the house was empty, when there was no-one there to disturb or cause fear or alarm to.

So...she invented this 'driving up and down the street' and 'staring at the house' stalking story (plus a few others) in an effort to add spice to the false accusation and help police shoe-horn it in to being a Section 39 'stalking' charge instead of the straightforward civil law property dispute it was.

Clever.

She never took her eye off the prize as they say, and you can rest assured she knew exactly how to play it.

Put bluntly, my false accuser lied to encourage police in to thinking there may indeed be some sort of domestic element, some distress, fear, alarm, going on here.

There wasn't.

There never was, ever.

This was a property dispute, pure and simple, nothing more, nothing less (as Sheriff Brown later confirmed when he threw the case out of court).

But my false accuser was determined to lie to police to push them in to making it something it was not. And her lies worked. Police failed to spot all the inaccuracies in her statement.

This is already a very long post so I've only listed a couple of the lies my false accuser told police. Rest assured there are more, all provable, all documented, and all in her sworn statement to police. I haven't even begun to tell you what she said in court on the witness stand after taking an oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth but that's for another day and another post. Thank goodness the Sheriff saw right through her.

So OK, we now know what she did and we also know that ex partners will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to cause trouble for their ex's. But how did she manage to make money out of it?

Well, the wheels of justice turn very slowly. By making a false accusation, lying to police in her statement, and having me arrested and charged, there was a long passage of time before this all came to trial in court (more than a year in fact).

This gave my false accuser plenty of time to remove all my furniture, fixtures, and plenishings out of the two properties we owned - leaving me with nothing.

And she did just exactly that.

As we sit here today, £5,000 worth of furniture, fixtures, and plenishings from both properties have completely disappeared (as has Ms Mcadam). She has long since disposed of the contents of both properties and has skipped the country owing £5,000 to me plus tens of thousands of pounds of debt to others which she has now dumped on me (it's known as joint and several liability - if one person doesn't pay the debt, the other person is liable and gets pursued for it).

Hey, let's hear a big cheer for Police Scotland and the Crown office for helping her do it. Shame on you all.

So why don't the police and Crown office now pursue her and charge her with making a false statement to them?

That would seem to be the right and just thing to do now surely?

Aha, this is where it get's interesting...

You see, from the police and the Crown office's perspective it just doesn't benefit them to pursue her and arrest her for her crimes - that would only serve to shine a very bright spotlight back on to the many police and Crown office failings that went on in this case and would highlight the fact that they got it so very wrong in the first place and pursued an innocent man and took away his liberty.

The police and Crown office would rather bury this whole matter and move on rather than have their failings exposed.

The innocent falsely accused person (me) who the police and Crown office wrongly pursued so relentlessly based on a false statement from a false accuser that they failed to check, turned out to actually be the victim.

But it's better for the police and Crown office that a guilty person gets away with a crime than they get criticised. They have decided to ignore these crimes in the hope that I'll eventually get fed up trying to pursue them for justice and go away.

That's never gonna happen.

Never.

I will not rest until my false accuser is sitting in a jail cell where she belongs for what she did.

I have some other options under Scots civil law. I could take Ms McAdam to civil court (assuming we can find her) to get my £5,000 of furniture, fixtures, and plenishings back. However my solicitor has advised me that this will cost me £6,000 in legal fees.

Even if I did have £6,000 to lay out and pursue Ms Mcadam in a civil court (which I don't), if she has already skipped out of the country with all the money it'll be impossible to ever reclaim what she owes me even if I win.

£5,000 out of pocket is bad enough. Throwing a further £6,000 at the case and still ending up with nothing is out of the question. I just don't have that sort of money to throw at a civil case and I have not been given any support from the police and Crown office to pursue this liar and false accuser in a criminal court.

Of course, as a member of the public and an innocent victim of crime, the Crown office have a duty to me and should help me. They should be pursuing my false accuser on my behalf - that's their job.

But what's the chances of the Crown office doing the right and just thing?

What's the chances of the Crown office admitting they got it wrong and doing an about-turn?

What's the chances of the Crown office going after a liar who they earlier jumped the gun and mistakenly supported?

Just ask the families of the six dead people who got mowed down by a bin lorry in Glasgow - they'll answer the above questions for you...

So, in the end, my false accuser may never see the inside of a court of law or a jail cell. She may never be brought to justice for her crimes (although I still continue to push the police and Crown office to arrest her, take her in to police custody, and pursue a conviction against her).

Meanwhile, even though I did absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever in trying to gain my own possessions from my own house and have been proved completely innocent in a court, I've lost everything, I'm thousands of pounds out of pocket, and I lost my liberty.

That's just not right by anyone's standards.

Add to this the fact that going down the civil court route is prohibitively expensive and could still see me ending up with nothing, even after I win in a civil case in court, and you can see what an impossible position the police and Crown office have placed me in.

Justice eh?

You get the justice the Crown give you and you get the justice you can afford.

Neither is fair.

I have to also say that it annoys me immensely that the Crown office arrogantly peddle this totally unfair notion that justice has been done just because someone wins their case and walks out of court innocent and free. They conveniently forget the fact that I was actually an innocent and a free man BEFORE I walked in to that court!

Having spent three days in a jail cell (arrested on a Friday, courts don't open till Monday) and a year of my life destroyed waiting for a trial to come up - not to mention the lost £5,000 of possessions, thousands of pounds in legal fees, and tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt my false accuser has piled on to me - is it any wonder I feel let down by the police and the Crown office?

You would too.

But that's the way it works.

I'm innocent yet it cost me dearly. I end up the victim and the injured party yet I still lose. And all the while the false accuser gets away scot-free, laughing at the police, laughing at the Crown office...and laughing all the way to the bank.

Suffice to say that if police had been trained to spot my false accuser's lies this debacle would never have seen the light of day - and I wouldn't have been left so seriously damaged and out of pocket.

So, coming around full circle to the point of this post, we ask the question will Police Scotland ever be given the proper training and the resources to help spot false accusers before they do damage like this to someone again?

And the answer is 'no'.

Weeding out false accusers would be the sensible, honest and just thing to do. But it won't happen. The police and the Crown office will never allow it because they fear it could be twisted around and spun by the politically correct brigade to criticise police and make it look like they're being hard on genuine 'victims'.

Police attract enough criticism and bad publicity at the best of times without choosing to do something that could add more fuel to their fire. So it's not in their interests to pursue this particular justice.

It would be very much in the public interest, but the public interest is of a much lesser importance to police and the Crown office.

Anyway, police are all about finding reasons to take complaints and arrest people. They are not about finding reasons to dismiss complaints and not arrest people.

False accusers are in the minority (thankfully) and not all people who make complaints to police lie in their statements like my false accuser did. Most are genuine.

But whether we like it or not, every complainer and accuser who walks in to a police station, genuine or not, needs to be viewed with some level of guardedness until their story checks out - this should always be standard police procedure to prevent an innocent person be wrongly accused.

It's about being sensible. Police don't have to openly display to complainers that they are being suspicious of their story, lest the complainer be genuine, but they do need to treat them with some sort of healthy scepticism until their story properly checks out.

It's all about checks and balances. Even the genuine complainer must be checked for honesty and there are discrete ways of doing these things. All it takes is good, honest, thorough, and fair policing. It's really not rocket science.

Sadly I know that these essential checks and balances to ensure justice is being served are being rejected every day and are viewed as a negative thing from a Police Scotland PR perspective. They fear that victims groups will scream out at them and accuse police of discouraging victims from coming forward etc.

Police don't want the hassle.

So injustice is a better fit for them.

The bottom line is that good PR headlines and arrogantly protecting the reputations of Police Scotland and the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service are more important to them than justice and fairness for the public.

Innocent members of the public who rightly confront the police and Crown office after being wrongly pursued by them are cast aside. We are viewed as an acceptable cost of doing business - wholly expendable in their eyes.

The consequences of all of this is that innocent members of the public who find themselves victims of false accusations and wrongly targeted by Police Scotland and the Crown office get treated as nothing more than collateral damage - pieces of unimportant human garbage to be discarded and ignored.

Welcome to justice Scottish style.

Police Scotland MUST protect us, the public, from false accusers.

Urgent police training is required NOW and funds MUST be allocated to aid police to better spot these false accusing charlatans. Changes to the way police approach these types of cases MUST change.

Police MUST check all statements with a fine tooth comb for inaccuracies before they rush to detain and arrest because there is absolutely nothing worse in a civilised society than an innocent person losing their liberty.

It happened to me. It should never be allowed to happen to anyone else.

Oh, and while we're at it, please stop this ridiculous bloody-minded culture that has evolved in Police Scotland and the Crown office where you arrogantly stick like glue to the wrong decisions you make long after it has become apparent to everyone (even yourselves) that you've got it wrong.

The Scottish public know that the Glasgow bin lorry driver lied to the DVLA and should never have been driving. Don't you realise that your Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland is viewed as a laughing stock by the Scottish public every time he shows his face on TV, acting like he is judge and jury, trying to convince the public that the bin lorry driver didn't do anything criminally wrong and that the Crown office knew ALL the facts a mere hours after the tragedy happened so were right not to prosecute?

It's embarrassing guys.

It's like the emperor's new clothes.

If no-one at the Crown office has the guts to tell Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland to his face that he makes a clown of himself every time he turns up on the BBC news spouting the official line that absolutely no-one outside the COPFS believes, set me up a meeting with him.

I'll tell him.

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/846643/police-ramp-up-efforts-to-help-domestic-abuse-victims/