Police pay out £50,000 after failing to protect murdered man
THE family of a murdered optician who blame police for his slaying have won a landmark victory in a High Court test case claim against Hertfordshire Constabulary. Awarding Giles Van Colle s family £50,000, Mrs Justice Cox backed their argument that police
THE family of a murdered optician who blame police for his slaying have won a landmark victory in a High Court test case claim against Hertfordshire Constabulary.
Awarding Giles Van Colle's family £50,000, Mrs Justice Cox backed their argument that police had done insufficient to protect Mr Van Colle from the man who killed him.
She said that in those circumstances there had been breaches of his human rights to life and to private and family life.
The judge said that £15,000 of the award was in respect of Mr Van Colle's "distress in the weeks leading up to his death".
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The other £35,000 was for his parents own "grief and suffering".
She said that she was satisfied that Mr Van Colle's rights under articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - rights to life and to private and family life - had been "violated" as a result of the way the police handled the case.
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Police had acted unlawfully in failing to protect the life of Mr Van Colle who had been due to give evidence against his killer in criminal proceedings.
The judge said: "Clearly if Giles had been placed in temporary safe accommodation pending the trial it is very unlikely that the murder would have taken place. There was at the very least a real prospect of avoiding this tragedy."
The murderer was Daniel Brougham, of Christie Road, Stevenage, who used a variety of names but was born in Iran as Ali Amelzadeh. He was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in March 2002.
Mr Van Colle's family claimed that police did "absolutely nothing" to protect their son after calling him as a "crucial" witness at a fraud trial.
The family claimed that despite the police knowing about intimidation by Brougham they not only did nothing to protect Giles but did not even address the need to protect him.
During the case the police sergeant involved, Dc David Ridley. admitted he had never even considered providing protection for the 25-year-old optician who had been threatened by the man who would go on to gun him down in Broadway, London.
He admitted that if he had followed the guidelines he should have arrested Brougham and had his bail revoked. In June 2003 Dc Ridley was taken before a disciplinary panel and found guilty of failing to perform his duties diligently, failing to investigate thoroughly the intimidation of witnesses, and of failing to arrest Brougham.
In the High Court, police lawyers denied there had been any breach of human rights but claimed that even if there had any damages awarded should be "relatively modest".
After the hearing, a Herts Police spokesman said: "Daniel Brougham, the man responsible for the murder of Giles Van Colle, is now serving a term of life imprisonment.
"The Constabulary deeply regret the death of Giles Van Colle, and the Constabulary would like to apologise to the Van Colle family for any mistakes that were made in investigating the threats made to Giles Van Colle.
"Since the time of this case our procedures have changed. Furthermore we are anticipating further national guidance on witness protection which we will incorporate into our current policies.