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Courts: PSNI loses appeal over widow's wrongful arrest

By Alan Erwin

Published 16/06/2015

The PSNI has lost its appeal against being ordered to pay £5,000 compensation to a widow wrongly arrested over a shoplifting incident
The PSNI has lost its appeal against being ordered to pay £5,000 compensation to a widow wrongly arrested over a shoplifting incident

The PSNI has lost its appeal against being ordered to pay £5,000 compensation to a widow wrongly arrested over a shoplifting incident.

A High Court judge affirmed the ruling that Helen Curlett was entitled to the award for being detained and taken into custody.

Mrs Curlett's lawyer called on the police to issue an apology, claiming she has been put through a "nightmare". The 56-year-old, from Ballyclare, Co Antrim, was arrested last year as part of an investigation into a theft at Victoria Square in Belfast.

Police linked Mrs Curlett on the basis of CCTV footage of her on a subsequent shopping trip.

She was detained and taken to Musgrave Street PSNI Station where fingerprints, photographs and DNA samples were taken.

Mrs Curlett, who has a completely clear record, was questioned over a number of hours spent in custody before being released without charge.

She then sued for wrongful arrest and unlawful detention.

Earlier this year Belfast County Court upheld her claim, ordering the PSNI to pay £5,000 damages.

Appealing the ruling, lawyers for the police argued that awarding damages would fetter their ability to arrest crime suspects.

But Lord Justice Gillen rejected the challenge, pointing out that officers had failed to consider alternative options such as asking Mrs Curlett to attend voluntarily for interview.

Belfast Telegraph

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