Saturday, 29 May 2010

URGENT WITNESS REQUIRED

I created this blog to reach out to the twitterverse in the hope that one of you, or someone you know, may have witnessed the incident below that led to me being charged by the CPS. If there is someone you believe might have been in the area at the time, then I urge you to forward this to them. Thank you very much for reading.

On Tuesday March 9th, at around 5.30pm, I was cycling west along Oxford Street, London, near Dean Street, when a taxi suddenly swerved across the front of me to pick up a fare and we collided. Following a brief verbal exchange, the taxi driver grabbed the scarf around my neck and strangled me until I was unconscious. When I regained consciousness the police were on the scene.

What seemed an open and shut case in my favour has gone horribly wrong in light of the appalling fact that the subsequent investigation failed to retrieve CCTV footage and also failed to secure the details of a witness who saw the entire incident. This witness was giving me first aid when I regained consciousness and assured me he had seen everything. The policeman on the scene assured me, twice, that he had taken the details of that witness. Two months later, when I was charged, I queried that same police officer about that witness and he denied his existence. According to him the witness is a "Figment of my imagination. You have made him up."

The taxi driver's defence is that I attacked him without provocation. A passenger in the car behind saw the scuffle and believes he may have seen a singular punch thrown, although crucially states he didn't see a punch connect (there certainly was a scuffle, I was having the life strangled out of me at the time) and on that basis, regardless of damning photographic evidence that shows vicious swollen bruising around my neck (backed up by the police medical examiner's report that indicates the same), because I have no witness or CCTV evidence to corroborate my story, the CPS has taken the taxi driver's version of events and charged me with assault.

In a week's time I will enter a plea of not guilty. My solicitor has warned me that legal costs could be around £5,000, and that's just if the CPS find me not guilty. This is a huge kick in the teeth and leaves me on the brink of a criminal record for a crime I did not commit, while the person who was extremely violent towards me hasn't even been cautioned.

Somewhere out there in this wonderful London town is *that* witness, and maybe a passing cyclist, motorist or pedestrian who also witnessed the taxi driver strangling me. If so, I really hope you are reading this.

I have canvassed all shops in the area for witnesses and private CCTV and return this week to speak to opposite shifts and put up notices. I have queried Westminster CCTV, along with their Traffic Wardens & Refuse Collectors who were working in the area at that time, and also queried London Transport about static and vehicle cameras. I am aiming to get ads and letters in the London press this week.

Someone out there must have seen something.

If you have any information, please email: cyclewitness@gmail.com

Thank you for your time.

Kindest regards,

Jared

For the record I have no previous charges or cautions and am more inclined to want to talk to people rather than attempt to murder them.

You can find out more about me HERE




45 comments:

  1. Best of luck! I hope you find the justice your seeking. Unfortunately im not from the UK but i'll retweet in case any of my London friends saw something!

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  2. This sounds terrible- surely the police must have asked for witnesses at the time. I wasn't in the area but have retweeted your plea on twitter and wish you the best

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  3. Damn, I work in Oxford Circus and was probably near when it happened, but unfortunately I did not see it :( wish I could help...

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  4. Can't help with witnesses I'm afraid, but it may be some small comfort for you to know that if you're found not guilty (by the court, not the CPS!) you will get all of your costs back. If your solicitor is telling you any different then he is wrong, and I would want to know why he is telling you that.

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  5. Sorry to hear about this - that's right outside my office - I wish I'd been there and could help out...

    I do know a lot of people around the Soho area, so I'll pass this around and see if anyone might have been in the area and seen anything...

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  6. Jared, just caught up with this, what a horrible situation. Have passed the link around. Surely you shouldn't have to pay a thing but if you do we'll have to crowd-source your funds :-)

    Allen

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  7. No Jared! I heard about this on the night of the 12 point meeting and was horrified to hear that this has turned to bite you in the butt! I know you were the one who was hurt! For goodness sake. I thought the UK was the land of justice for all but it seems I was wrong. Sending you all strength via the net and will retweet as well - have a few UK connections who may just retweet to someone who was there. REALLY hope this works out in your favour. Big petitions starting now to the gods of those who have been hard done by.

    X

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  8. That's an absolute horror story! I'll ask around and tweet about it.

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  9. Jared, also suggest you ask Kate if she has any advice on how to make this go viral. Good luck! x The C half of Veraline

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  10. That's awful. I'm really glad to hear that you're fighting this though - I know of many people who would just roll over and take it to avoid costs and, well, hassle. I'd help if I could, but I'm not anywhere near London - I have a couple of friends I'll ask on the offchance, but chances are slim, I'm afraid.

    Perhaps you could put up a Paypal donations thingy, or something, to help pay legal fees. I'm sure many would be glad to pitch in.

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  11. try asking the bike taxi guys to spread the word around, one of them may have been in the area.

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  12. Will of course spread this among the few London acquaintances I have... In Germany, your legal costs would be reimbursed if you are found not guilty. Don't know how it is in UK but as andy suggests it might be worth double-checking. You happy with your lawyer?
    Paul's paypal idea is great. Count me in.

    Hang in there, dear friend.

    x from the V half ;-)

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  13. I'm not on your side of the Atlantic, but I'm horrified for you and amazed.
    If you have no evidence, then presumably neither has the taxi driver. Thus since, also presumably, in UK one is still innocent until proven guilty, it must result in case dismissed.
    As for costs, it is the police who are wasting the court's time since apparently the taxi driver didn't press charges, the police did.
    This is the kind of situation where more often than not the police don't even turn up at the court.
    Looks to me, then, that you might just as well give them the metaphorical finger and walk away away from it.
    I'm surprised that your lawyer hasn't said that, unless he/she is enjoying your fees too much. (I guess you have been given a Legal Aid lawyer.)
    Amazing story. I look forward to learning of its happy resolution (except for your sore neck.)

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  14. I got this via Hugh - will pass around also. Good luck.

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  15. That's awful. Sadly I wasn't in the area at that time but I do hope you find someone who can help. Wishing you all the best.

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  16. Um... Slight issue if you find a witness now as you have basically contaminated them by giving your account of the incident.

    I dunno if it's too late but I would take down your version of events pronto as I suspect it has the potential to harm your defence.

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  17. This is such an injustice! I'll retweet this link, here's hope someone saw the incident.
    Good luck, stay strong.

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  18. I did want to read your story, & hope you find your witness, but you have damaged your defence if this is how you locate them. The prosecution only has to ask one question about why they came forward, which they will anyway, and their evidence will be ruled inadmissable.

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  19. I'm in for helping via a PayPal link, and will re-tweet...

    AS someone else said, If you have no evidence, neither has the Taxi driver. Especially if you have recorded bruising and they do not.

    Take down the blow-by-blow part of the account though, make it far more neutral.
    Contaminating Witnesses is a bad thing.

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  20. This is horrific. Something similar happened to me with the Met Police 2 years ago. Although I cleared my name in the end, the trauma of it ruined 2 years of my life.

    In the first place, the CPS decision to prosecute doesn't sound as though it has abided by the CPS code - ie The evidential test should imply a >50% likelihood of conviction. The driver's version of events alone amounts to hearsay, which by defition is 50-50, and as such is not sufficient to support a prosecution. Ideally your solicitor should have challenged this immediately.

    I really really hope you are not with a Duty Solicitor, as IME these are in cahoots with Met Police misconduct and give very bad advice, happily taking money from the public purse for doing so. It's a scam.

    This prosecution should never have been authorised, and if you made an allegation of assault at the scene (the LAS record should document this, though the police may try to deny it, and it sounds the LAS failed also - ask them about 'primacy of care'), then the driver should have been arrested also. There is no excuse for the police failure in this regard. I bet the one who arrested you was aged about 12, possibly his first arrest, and could barely contain his pride.

    I really hope that you find a witness, and show the appalling Met Police and CPS up for what they are.

    You've still got the best part of a year to get your complaint in, though don't expect anything other than a cover-up. I'd complain to LAS as well if I were you.

    ((Hugs))

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  21. Have tweeted, good luck.

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  22. I guess you've probably already done a search on Flickr & other web photo services, to see who was taking pics on Oxford Street & Soho on 9 March 2010, so you can contact them to see if they saw anything?
    For example this is what comes up for pics with Oxford and London in their text for 9 March 2010 on Flickr:
    http://bit.ly/crnzlN

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  23. Thats taxi drivers for you...

    unfortunately if you do find a witness.. he'll just find 10 "taxi" mates that will agree with his story.

    Sorry dude..

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  24. Have you spoken to your local MP? They can be surprisingly helpful

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  25. Cant help but think one less cyclist on the streets in Soho can only be a good thing.

    If you're admitting to throwing a punch whether it connected or not is irrelevant. Your dont have to 'touch' someone to commit assault.

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  26. PROBABLY TOO LATE NOW, BUT HAVE YOU TRIED BUS CCTV?

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  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  28. This has gone viral over the past few days. My advice would be to seek secondary advice from another lawyer; if you are a member of London Cycling Campaign or CTC they have cyclist-friendly lawyers who can help you with this sort of thing for free.

    Also, get on to the Met and the CPS and call them every day to make sure this is handled properly. You need to drive them like a stick to a donkey.

    Good luck!

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  29. Hi Jared,

    I work for the Parking and CCTV dept in a neighbouring London Borough and have contacted my CCTV Head to see if he can pull some strings. I've also contacted our CCTV software suppliers to see if they control the CCTV in Westminster to see if they can help from the back end.

    I've just started cycling again today after 6 months of getting 'the fear!' (previously cycled for 4 years all seasons) so this just reminds me how careful we have to be.

    I also had an altercation with a cab who drove at me. We had exchanged words and a 'gesture' and I was told by the police that because he hadn't actually hit me with the cab they couldn't arrest him for GBH and because we'd both exchanged verbal/ gestures if I put in a claim of assault they'd have to arrest me too.
    Thankfully he never responded to the CPS and so they gave him a written warning (they can get 3 before losing their cabbie licence).

    I will email you if I get anything back.

    All the best!
    Rollergirl007

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  30. People: this is horrible. The middle of London, 4pm, and not one person offers name/ cell/ email just in case an altercation goes legal?

    PLEASE: if you witness something like this, be aware that these bullies will act like this AND will claim the victim was the instigator.

    PLEASE: break out of your shell and act: ALL you have to do is 1. offer to be an eyewitness if needed, and 2. leave contact info: email, cell #, business card, whatever.

    It is difficult to have your wits about you when someone has just attacked you.

    A similar deal happend to me a couple weeks ago. I had to approach a reluctant witness to support the truth, because a guy who began shoving me in a public place claimed I had hit and shoved him - totally false.

    This was at a busy store with store pesonnel, and security guards.

    Thankfully, I called the authorities, and the officer and I asked this reluctant sidewalk vendor for his view, which added up to the aggressor getting a minor assault charge, while the aggressor did not have any info to have anything legal stick to me.

    I felt uncomfortable having to go approach anyone to ask them to be an eyewitness. What if we decent people volunteer to do the right thing, on our own initiative? Is this too much to ask?

    I know there are hardly any more Christians in the UK, and the remaining ones may be afraid of Sharia law, but seriously, people? No one feels any obligation to be a Good Samaritan? Eevn the Good Samaritan acted correctly, despite not being Jewish or Christian.

    Seriously, people. There will always be bullies. But Jared is really suffering some consequences because, infortunately, out of a crowd , there is no one with a bit of time or backbone. Shame on the passive observers.

    Ideally, each of us should approach victims and offer to be an eyewitness, and leave contact info. Come on, people - we swap business cards, email addresses, and cell numbers ALL the time!!

    I offered such for a victim in a modest parking-lot fender-bender. No big deal. A cell-phone-chatting lousy driver hit another car. Here in the states, if there is no eyewitness or other evidence, parking lot fender-benders are expediently negotiated between auto ins companies as 50/50 fault.

    I offered to be an eyewitness for the car that got hit, since I saw it all plain as day. A wek later, the victim's auto ins company called me, took a recorded testimony, and that was that. Maybe 5 minutes of my time. That may have saved the victim a thousand dollars in car repair.

    PLEASE: if a case is clear victim/aggresor, and you are an eyewitness, leave your contact info with the victim.

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  31. http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/moj-admits-drafting-error-fee-capping-regulations

    despite the "change" in the law you can still recover your fees in full, you might want to bring this to your solicitor's attention.

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  32. Hi Jared

    If you're querying LAS, make sure you get the CAD as well as the attendance record (there should be 2 forms, LA4 and LA4H). The CAD is the log of the 999 call. Could have useful info in it. You can also get the call transcript (they might charge you 50 quid).

    If you were the patient, and had been knocked unconscious, the primacy of care was with LAS to ensure you were taken to hospital instead of arrested. I'll wager you didn't receive prompt medical care from the FME. Gary Bassett is head of patient services at LAS, can give you his email/direct line if you need. You can let him know that you know that this is not the first complaint of this nature he's received (happy to give you my name details by email if you want).

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  33. Oh, and also, the CCTV footage being erased? Don't believe that for a moment. They have to hold it for a certain length of time, which I'm pretty sure is more than 3 months. Slap in a subject access request, I would. They may try and claim disproportionate effort, but I understand that can be overcome.

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  34. Good luck! I wasn't there but I hope you find someone who was!

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  35. Contact cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk - it is run by CTC but they take on cases for non members. Even if they don't take on your case I'm sure they will advise you. Certainly contact London Cycle Campaign too for advice. Police all over UK generally have a "windscreen view" of cyclist road collisions and will side with the driver in the absence of witness statements or clear evidence. Best of luck, sounds like an awful experience and injustice.

    Mark, Bricycles (Brighton and hove cycle campaign group)

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  36. Good luck, mate.

    Too many of us have been there as well - being abused and shouted at by some of the cab drivers.

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  37. I am a bit confused: The taxi driver throttled you until you were unconscious and next thing you know the police were questioning you in a hostile manner.

    Did the taxi driver wait on-scene? Otherwise, how did they locate him?

    Did they question the fare he stopped to pick-up? If not, why not?

    If they had no witnesses and it was the taxi driver's word against yours, then surely the both of you should have been arrested, not just you, especially as you were the one with the bruises to prove an assault.

    And the police failing to note down the details of a willing witness - that is unbelievable. Complain about police incompetence.

    As for CCTV not being retained - don't insurance companies stipulate how long recordings should be kept. Those companies who don't comply are compromising their insurance cover.

    There are so many holes in this. Your solicitor needs to crank himself up to full working order because he doesn't appear to have the wit to take on a case like this - it is beyond his capabilities. What does he normally do, a bit of conveyancing or the odd bit of free advice at a local CAB? Get someone more competent.

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  38. Good luck with locating witnesses, and I'm glad you're happy with your solicitor.

    It's a shame that so many of those commenting are offering legal 'expertise' they don't have: the taxi driver's account is not hearsay, duty solicitors are not in cahoots with the police (they are independent criminal solicitors, and most firms you'd approach separately will also be on the duty rota), CCTV is often kept for only a week, Bettie's advice to ignore it and it'll go away couldn't be more wrong...

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  39. Caroline, you make some bold claims there.

    My duty solicitor colluded with police misconduct against me. That is a matter of fact. I've no idea on what grounds you feel qualified to comment, you don't know me, and you don't know the facts of my case.

    The taxi-driver's account IS hearsay, unless it is corroborated. It is taxi-driver's word against Jared's, and so does not meet the CPS test for prosecution. Why do you think so many rape cases don't go to court? Because one person's word against another is not sufficient to support a prosecution (ie a >50% likelihood of conviction). A witness or statement or victim's testimony by itself is no more than hearsay. Check your facts before you go around talking rubbish next time.

    CCTV is kept for a number years in the Met, according to their regulations. I have found this out personally (though I forget the exact no. of years they must keep it for). Other bodies will have their own protocol.

    Jared - I've told you truthfully what happened to me, and what I learned from the experience. Caroline doesn't know what she's on about.

    Btw, I got send this link to the MPA's policing survey today, you might want to make your views known: www.mpa.gov.uk/publications/policingplans/haveyoursay/

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  40. Melanie, I suggest you reread my comment.

    1. I am not doubting that you have had a terrible experience. I never commented on your particular case, only on some general claims you made.

    2. Duty solicitors are independent - one of the most unfortunate misapprehensions is that they are not, because it puts people off getting legal help to which they are entitled. Does that mean that no duty solicitor ever acts wrongly? Of course not, any more than that's true of any other profession. However, if your duty solicitor was guilty of misconduct that doesn't mean they *all* are.

    3. Hearsay is a legal term which has a specific legal meaning, and the taxi driver's evidence is *not* hearsay. (To wildly oversimplify, his statement would be hearsay if he repeated something he'd been told rather than what he claimed to have seen/experienced himself. His evidence here is of what he claims to have experienced himself. It might be uncorroborated - ie one person's word against another - but it isn't hearsay.)

    4. Not all organisations follow the same rules as the Met. You also seem to be referring to CCTV which the Met already holds as evidence in a case - there are separate rules for the treatment of evidence.

    I do know what I'm on about, and most importantly I know not to generalise from one experience. I'm not doubting what happened to you, and indeed have never questioned it, but you cannot extrapolate from that to say all cases are the same.

    Jared, I'm sorry the comments appear to have been diverted by Melanie's personal attack on me. I hope that you have had some success in finding a witness, and good luck.

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  41. Sorry, Jared, but I do not want you or others to be misled about this.

    1. Duty solicitors are NOT necessarily independent, as I have learned to my cost. In any case, they are on a contract to the LSC, which is part of the criminal justice system.

    In my case, the 'advice' I received was such as to assist the police in their misconduct against me, and to make my own case very much harder to prove. For this reason, I would NEVER go near a Duty Solicitor again, and I wouldn't advise anyone else to either. I was not making a generalisation per se, merely advising caution.

    2. On the 'hearsay' point, regardless of semantic quibbling, my point still stands re the CPS test for authorising a prosecution - it has to be a greater than 50% likelihood of a conviction, and one person's word against another's does not deliver that, all things being equal.

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  42. Melanie,

    1. All legal aid solicitors (criminal or not) have a contract with the LSC, it doesn't compromise their independence. The vast majority of criminal law firms are part of the duty solicitor scheme. The duty solicitor scheme is independent of the police, so I repeat, while your solicitor may have been a bad one it wasn't being a duty solicitor that made them so.

    A far more common cause of miscarriages of justice is people not getting legal advice which they need. Your advice is therefore potentially quite dangerous, and I'm sure you don't want that.

    2. This is not a semantic quibble, far from it: if the evidence were hearsay that would have a profound effect upon the case.

    A lack of corroboration does not necessarily mean that there is not a greater than 50% chance of conviction, and in any event the CPS believe that they have corroboration from the witness who saw a punch thrown. Whatever doubts one might have about that assessment, it would be quite hard to challenge for that reason.

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  43. keep the faith, thousands around the world are now hearing your story. Keep believing that the person who can help will find it too.

    a.

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  44. Can we look at this with a logical eye? The fuckwits who have commented so far are either fanatic cylists or rabid anti police fruit loops.

    This idiot Jared clearly pissed off the taxi driver - who was going about his legal business & trying to earn an honest living.

    His pathetic alegations that 'it wasn't me who started it' are all one would expect from a lycra lout.

    Does anyone seriously believe that, in the middle of Europes busiest shopping street, at rush hour, nobody saw the incident and there is no CCTV record?

    The twat is clearly making it all up to gain a bit of sympathy.

    I hope he gets sent down.

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  45. Good job! This is good information about CCTV Camera and CCTV System. Nowadays, this business growing well in security industry.

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