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Thetford: Retired officers hit back at kerb trip Pc's bid to sue

PUBLISHED: 07:30 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:17 03 April 2013

Nun's Bridges FIlling Station

Nun's Bridges FIlling Station

Archant

RETIRED officers have described an attempt by a police constable to sue a petrol station owner after she tripped on a kerb while attending a suspected break-in, as "unbelievable" and "ludicrous".

Pc Kelly Jones, 33, was called out to Nuns’ Bridges Filling Station in Thetford last August after an alarm was triggered. She claims to have injured her arm and leg when she fell on a kerb stone while checking outside the building with the business’ owner Steve Jones.

Lawyers claim Mr Jones, 50, was at fault for failing to ensure the police officer was “reasonably safe”, making no attempt to light the area or warn her about the step.

Last night, retired police officers in Suffolk criticised Pc Jones for giving the force a “bad name”. One of them, David Abbott, 63, said he was amazed and baffled that the claim had got as far as it had.

He said: “I have been retired for eight years now but during my 30 years in the force, working in places such as Ipswich and Hadleigh, I was assaulted by people, bitten, scratched and kicked by wild and domestic animals, and I tripped on a dark railway line.

“I fell into an HGV inspection pit in pitch dark, broke an ankle climbing over high gates while pursuing a suspect, and I was even shot at with a firearm.

“We didn’t even have stab-proof vests in those days, but everything was in the line of duty and not once did it ever occur to me that I could claim against anyone.”

Mr Abbott, from Hadleigh, said the negative press the police force had received as a result of the claim had been damaging.

He added: “This should never had been pursued in the first place as no permanent damage was done (to Pc Jones). In my opinion, the whole thing is ludicrous. If tripping up a kerb is worst that you encounter as a police officer, then you are very lucky.”

Malcolm Briggs, 66, from Leiston, is also a former police officer.

In 1973, he claimed damages via the former criminal injuries board after he fractured his spine climbing over a fence while he was responding to a 999 call. He subsequently had three spinal operations.

He said: “I can kind of understand why Pc Jones has claimed for damages but to sue a garage owner because you have tripped over a regular high street kerb does seem a little extreme.”

Yesterday Pc Jones’ father Danny Harle claimed she felt she had been “persecuted”.

“All she did was follow standard police procedure. There was never any mention of figures. She was expecting a couple of grand, not £500,000.”

On Monday, Norfolk’s Chief Constable Phil Gormley spoke of his “disappointment” over the matter and said the claim did not represent the “approach and attitude of the overwhelming majority” of staff at Norfolk Constabulary.

A Norfolk Constabulary spokesman said the legal action was not supported by them.

“Our understanding is that the action is funded and supported by the Police Federation” he said.

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