Sunday, April 17, 2011

Waste of public money

R v Lindis Percy
Trial for alleged offence: section 128 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005
(Decision to prosecute are made by the Attorney General)

Heard before David Cooper (District Judge)
Prosecutor - Ms Booth (Barrister)(Not THE Ms Booth)
Defendant - Lindis Percy (litigant in person)

On 30 October 2009 at about 12.45 pm Lindis walked into USAF Mildenhall via Gate 1, showed her driving license to US security (Kyler Sherman Brown) at the guard gate. He took it, examined it front and back and said: "O.K Mam - there you go - have a nice day". She was on the base unchallenged for about an hour and was making her way out when she was recognised by Richard Fryer (RAF Liaison officer at Mildenhall) who alerted Robert Curtis (Ministry of Defence Police Agency officer). She was arrested and taken to Bury St Edmunds Police station and eventually released on conditional bail.

Just before the 6 months were up the Attorney General - at the time Baroness Scotland - made the decision to bring this prosecution. There have been many Case Management hearings and difficulties because of Orders being ignored by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) , delays in disclosures, letters not being responded to by the CPS , the US authorities taking a long time to release the CCTV footage and witnesses being flown back to the US - so delaying the trial.

The trial was originally fixed for 8 November 2010. However the date had to be vacated as Kyler Sherman Brown had been flown back to the US. He was not available until the end of January 2011. Two other witnesses had also been flown back to the US and would not be available until August 2011 (apparently serving in Afghanistan).

The case was fixed for two days. David Cooper (DJ) agreed at the previous hearing to hear, as a preliminary issue, an application by Lindis for the case to be stayed (abuse of process). On the day however the DJ said that he would go straight into the trial as there would probably be questions needing to be asked of the witnesses by Lindis.

Lindis's defence was that she was on a public footpath and had been given permission by Kyler Sherman Brown to go onto the base - therefore she could not be committing an offence under SOCPA. The road into the base was not covered by SOCPA. However one of the difficulties facing Lindis was that in his statement Kyler Sherman Brown denied ever seeing Lindis and certainly did not authorise her entry. The CCTV footage of the incident only showed Lindis putting a foot through the gate. There was no apparent footage of the guard gate area (which was surprising) given that this was a gate entry. There was further footage of Lindis seen walking on the base however.

The CPS called five witnesses. Robert Curtis (MDPA) was the first witness followed by Richard Fryer (RAF Liaison officer). Kyler Sherman Brown had apparently that day been flown in from Nevada (where he is now posted). Under cross examination by Lindis he denied all knowledge of ever seeing her or giving her permission to enter the base. When asked what would happen if by a mistake he let someone in - he said he would be disciplined. Lindis reminded him that he was under oath and that he had in fact done just that. He denied all questions put to him by Lindis about the truth of what actually happened. At the end of the cross examination she said: "It seems to me that you are either incompetent or not telling the truth - which is it?" He said he was neither incompetent or complacent.

There were two other US witnesses, one being Mika Byrd who 'archived' the CCTV footage. She said that the camera at the gate did monitor the guard gate and 'quite a long way up the road'. She said she had produced all the CCTV footage. After being cross examined there were still concerns as to where the rest of the footage was - covering the gate area and beyond. This was crucial to Lindis's defence as it would show that Kyler Sherman Brown did let her through.

Cross examined by Lindis, Tavarus Melton (US Security Flight Chief and 'tasked' to interview Kyler Sherman Brown) said that 'someone monitoring the camera thought an intruder had been let in'. He said it was a significant incident (in the scale of 1-10 - rated 10). He said when questioned further that Kyler Sherman Brown had been disciplined for not giving 'giving enough attention to detail' because 'you had entered the base'. Kyler Sherman Brown had said that he did not see her go through the gate as he was busy with another person. This was not true.

Lindis then gave evidence and told it as it had happened. Ms Booth attempted to get her to agree that her intention was to test the security and that she had 'sneaked' in under the 'cover of a lorry'. Lindis said that she entered the base to continue her research. She said that she had entered the base on the footpath - she had been asked for ID by Kyler Sherman Brown, she showed it to him, he carefully examined it and gave her permission to continue into the base.

At the end of her evidence Lindis made an application for 'no case to answer'. The DJ said he had 'got what the issue is now' and went straight on to read out his decision. He said that Kyler Sherman Brown was a 'good man - an honorable man who served his country'. He said however that 'like any human being he 'reran the incident to make it look rather different'. He knew he would be in 'hot water' and 'being human may have blotted out this incident'. His statement was made a month later. The DJ said 'anyone listening to Ms Percy would believe her'. He said she was not a trespasser - she was permitted to go in'. The CPS had not proved their case. He dismissed the charge and awarded costs to Lindis.

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