Sunday, November 04, 2012

Police spent £3,000 ­prosecuting man for ripping up 50p disposable pillow in cell

A Swansea man was taken to court for ripping a 50p pillow to shreds while he was in a police cell. Richard Lewis, 42, took his frustration out on the disposable pillow after being arrested by police on the day he lost his job. Police watched on CCTV as Lewis grabbed the “custody pillow” off the bed in his cell and tore it into pieces.

Officers let him off the petty offence he was arrested for — but then charged him with criminal damage to the pillow. The cost of taking him to court has been estimated at £3,000, while the cost of the pillow was put at just 50p. Father of two Lewis admitted criminal damage and was given a 12-month conditional discharge by magistrates at Llanelli.

Peter Martin, defending, said: “It was a particularly frustrating day for Mr Lewis — he had lost his job after 11 years with the same company. He was arrested at 9.30pm in relation to an allegation of criminal damage. By 6am next morning, he decided he had had enough and took out his frustrations on the pillow given to him by the police. Clearly these custody pillows are not given to be ripped up, but they are basically single-use items.”

The court heard pillows given to prisoners at the police station in Ammanford are similar to those handed out to passengers on long-haul flights. Mr Martin added: “The police do not keep these pillows to reuse, but they are not there to be destroyed. Mr Lewis ripped the pillow to express his displeasure at still being in the cells nine hours after his arrest.” The magistrates made no order for Lewis, formerly of Penybanc Road, Ammanford, to pay court costs or compensation for the ruined pillow.

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