Four cleared after 'thief' parade

FOUR men who paraded a colleague through an Essex town centre with a sign saying “Thief” hung around his neck yesterday walked free from court after agreeing to keep the peace.

FOUR men who paraded a colleague through an Essex town centre with a sign saying “Thief” hung around his neck yesterday walked free from court after agreeing to keep the peace.

Prosecutors dropped charges of false imprisonment against Simon Cremer, 44, his brother Andrew Cremer, 42, David White, 42, and Reece Bennett, 23.

The four men denied using threatening behaviour but agreed to be bound over to keep the peace for a year.

Frank O'Toole, prosecuting, told a district judge sitting at Colchester Magistrates' Court that the four men detained Mark Gilbert, 39, in Witham, Essex, on September 28.


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He said Mr Gilbert was an employee at Simon Cremer's flooring business in Witham.

Simon Cremer and the three men, also employees at the firm, believed Mr Gilbert had stolen a cheque for £850.

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Mr O'Toole said the four men tied the sign around Mr Gilbert's neck and took him to a nearby police station.

Police arrested Mr Gilbert and he subsequently accepted a police caution for theft.

But the four men were arrested and accused of false imprisonment.

Mr O'Toole said Mr Gilbert, 39, from Colchester, had begun legal proceedings against the four men in a civil court.

He said that legal guidelines suggested Mr Gilbert had been “inappropriately” punished.

The Crown Prosecution Service had decided to withdraw the false imprisonment allegations against the four men to bring “proportionality” to the case, he said.

Prosecutors had discussed the position with legal representatives of the four men and the men had agreed to be bound over, he added.

“Guidelines suggest it (Mr Gilbert's caution) was inappropriate as it was a breach of trust,” Mr O'Toole told the court.

“In the circumstances proportionality dictates that the Crown should take a more balanced view in relation to the decision to prosecute.”

District Judge David Cooper told the men they were not being convicted of any criminal offence.

But he said if they committed any violent or disorderly crime within the next year they could each forfeit £500.

The court heard that after being arrested, Simon Cremer, of Halstead, Essex, Andrew Cremer, of Colchester, Mr White, of Maldon, Essex, and Mr Bennett, of Witham, had expressed their annoyance.

Simon Cremer said as he left court: “We can't say too much because Mr Gilbert has begun civil proceedings against us.

“We are satisfied with the way we have been dealt with by the court today - we think it was common sense.

“But we are not satisfied with the way Mr Gilbert has been dealt with and we are still not happy about that.

“I can't say any more at the moment because of the legal position in terms of civil proceedings.”

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