Young farmer who fired shotgun to protect his mother is suing police crime commissioner
NewsFriday 14 November 2014
A farmer who fired a shotgun at intruders to protect his mother is now suing the North Yorkshire Police and its Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan.
Bill Edwards, 23, is suing them both for defamation after Mrs Mulligan made remarks about him in a radio interview that she gave based on police advice.
The incident occurred in August 2012 at the woodland property near Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Mr Edwards caught two burglars trying to steal tools, scrap metal and furniture from his family’s property.
His mother, Louisa Smith, rang the police as the two intruders fled.
One of the intruders took off on foot, whilst the other jumped into a Ford Transit Van and began driving at Mrs Smith.
It was at this point that Mr Edwards, who was fearing for his life, fired the shotgun at the vehicle. During the incident his mother can be heard screaming ‘shoot out the tyres’.
He managed to hit the windscreen and the bodywork of the van but no one was injured in the incident.
They then gave chase, with Mr Edwards driving whilst his mother gave a running commentary to the police on the phone. The culprit was eventually caught a few miles away and escaped with a £100 fine after claiming that he had been traumatised during the break-in.
Mr Edwards was then arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and had his guns confiscated.
After four months on bail the charges were dropped when the prosecutors deemed Mr Edwards to have used ‘reasonable force in self-defence’.
However, in early 2013, Mrs Mulligan gave an interview to BBC Radio Yorkshire in which she claimed that there were ‘exceptional circumstances’ that led to Mr Edwards being arrested.
She went on to state that he had not told the truth and that there were ‘aspects of this case that are quite serious and I think that those details are not in the public domain… We cannot let people get the impression that they can take the law into their own hands.’
Documents from the court have stated that she was wrongly briefed by senior North Yorkshire Police officers.
Mr Edwards has now sued Mrs Mulligan for libel stating that he cannot find work now as other farmers in the community think that he is a liar.
He said: ‘After the thief was fined they had me on the news and radio and then they had the police on. That should have been the conclusion of everything.
‘But [Julia Mulligan] went and made these statements that destroyed everything. My boss came out and told me to leave work because he heard that on the radio and sent me home.
‘I went from being a hero who saved my mum’s life while standing up to a thief, to people thinking there was something I was hiding. Their assumption was, “What is he not telling us? What is he hiding?”
‘It is a huge burden because people who I used to work with think I’m a liar who has not been telling the truth.
Solicitor Andrew Gray, who represents Mr Edwards, said: ‘My client's life has become a living hell, due to the actions and failures of North Yorkshire Police and its Police and Crime Commissioner. Bill is a hero, not a villain, and he should be have been treated accordingly.’
The case is understood to have cost North Yorkshire Police around £40,000 of taxpayers’ money.
Mrs Mulligan said: ‘Mr Edwards has instigated legal proceedings and it isn’t appropriate that either of us should comment on the details of a live legal case. We need to let this case follow due process and I have every confidence that it will come to an appropriate outcome.’
Source: Daily Mail