Man spends 11 hours in jail after mix-up

A FATHER-OF-TWO from Essex was hauled from his bed at 3am by police and left in a cell for 11 hours because of a mix-up by Tesco.

A FATHER-OF-TWO from Essex was hauled from his bed at 3am by police and left in a cell for 11 hours because of a mix-up by Tesco.

Charity worker Simon Brash, 42, was woken in the early hours of last Thursday by officers after being wrongly accused of stealing a plasma TV from the superstore.

Despite protesting his innocence, he was marched from his home in Chelmsford to a police station where he was held through the night.

He was finally released at 1.15pm after the police admitted a mistake had been made.

Angry Mr Brash said: “I was left to languish in a prison cell, my individual rights were completely put on the side for a plasma TV.

“I have got a full-time job - I'm a database manager for a national charity, I manage a library, I told them 'this is ridiculous, you'll see a big mistake has taken place'.”

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The mistake happened after a shopping trip at 7.30pm to his local Tesco when a driver claimed he had been involved in a scratch with another car.

His registration number was given out over the tannoy and Mr Brash voluntarily swapped his insurance details with the woman driver.

But while the security guards were talking to him, someone allegedly tried to steal a plasma television. Mr Brash claimed that when the store reported the crime to police they mixed up his details with those of the thief.

At 3am he got a knock at the door and was amazed to find officers outside accusing him of the theft.

He said: “At first I was shocked and thought it may be about the incident with the car and then I just clocked that the security guard had my details and obviously someone's done something and the store has mixed up my details on the log sheet.

“I told police that's what happened, it's too obvious. It's got to be too much of a coincidence that the security guard had my details and suddenly I'm arrested for something that happened in Tesco.

“The officers came into my lounge and started searching my house immediately and then I was told 'Tesco says you have stolen a TV'. I was taken out and taken to the police station.”

The following afternoon, police finally accepted there had been made a mistake and let him go.

Chief Inspector Glenn Maleary, of Essex Police, said: “Essex Police was given the registration number of this man's car by a member of security working for Tesco in Prince's Road in Chelmsford in good faith.

“Inquiries later established that this man wasn't responsible and I have personally apologised to him and invited him to meet with me so we can discuss what we could have done differently in this case.

“From our inquiries it appears there were two incidents at the Tesco store occurring at the same time at about 7.10pm on April 16.

“One was the theft of the plasma screen TV and the other was some minor damage to a vehicle in the car park.

“It would appear that the incorrect details were passed to police in relation to the theft.

“We arrested the man at the earliest opportunity, which was at about 3.20am on April 17.

“CCTV has been examined and the statements were taken from witnesses demonstrating that the arrested man wasn't responsible and as such the suspect and television are still outstanding.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “There was a mix up by a customer who felt they had witnessed something significant and who, although acting in good faith, unfortunately gave wrong information.

“We're getting in touch with Mr Brash ourselves as we fully sympathise with what must have been a deeply upsetting experience.”

Mr Brash said he would be making a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and would be seeking compensation from Tesco. He said he would consider legal action if the matter was not sorted out.

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