Shopkeeper who frogmarched teenage thief home to the boy's father endures ten-month court ordeal after police charge HIM with false imprisonment

Friday, June 17, 2011

-Boy brandished piece of wood after being taken off school roof by police an hour before the incident
-Shopkeeper arrested because teenager claimed he had been driven around for 15 to 20min

By Daily Mail Reporter

A shopkeeper suffered a gruelling ten-month court ordeal and was warned he could face life in jail - for frogmarching a 15-year-old shoplifter home to the teenager's family.

Owais Dar, 26, of Nelson, Lancashire, thought he was doing the right thing when he caught the boy stealing a bunch of grapes. He drove the teenager to his home and handed him over to his father.

But two days later, at four in the morning, Mr Dar was woken by police banging on the door and was arrested on suspicion of false imprisonment.

Ordeal: Owais Dar caught the teenager stealing a bunch of grapes. The shopkeeper had been told he could face life in jail for the charge of false imprisonment, following the incident in Nelson, Lancashire

At this point the Crown Prosecution Service was advised by a lawyer to take no further action.

However a senior police officer said Mr Dar's conduct was 'intolerable', and the case should be tried in the public interest because of the disparity in age between the defendant and the boy.

Mr Dar was due to face trial at Burnley Crown Court on Wednesday after denying the charge, for which the maximum sentence is life in prison.

But instead he was bound over in the sum of £250 for 12 months, and the charge was left to lie on file.

Afterwards Mr Dar said: 'To be honest I just think it's ridiculous. This has been going on for ten months now and I'm just glad it's all over.

'We've never had any trouble in the shop before and I always thought I was a nice person just trying to do the right thing. This is a family shop which my parents have owned since I was six months' old and a place where I've always worked and now I don't feel I can.'

Mr Dar said that on the night last August when the incident took place he had seen two boys leaving the shop and realised they had taken some grapes.

Family business: The incident took place at Dar General Store in Nelson, which was previously run by Mr Dar's parents

He said he chased the boys, caught the culprit, and drove him home where he handed the boy straight over to his father.

Mr Dar said: 'A day or two later at four in the morning there was suddenly a loud banging at my back door as though someone was trying to break the door down. I went down to find it was the police who wanted to arrest me.

'I couldn't believe they showed up at that time. It wasn't that urgent and aren't there more serious crimes going on? My father who has now sadly died was very ill at the time and he was quite distressed.'

However, the hearing was told that Mr Dar was arrested because the boy claimed he had been driven around for 15 to 20 minutes.

He also alleged that Mr Dar had slapped his face and threatened him in the car, but was said to have seemed more frightened of his father than the defendant when he arrived home.

The court heard that the teenager, now 16, had been taken off a school roof by police about an hour before the incident and officers confiscated a piece of wood he had been brandishing.

He now had a criminal conviction and at the time had two cautions. A main prosecution witness, a 15-year-old girl, had been serving a sentence in custody, but had been brought in to give evidence.

Mr Dar, who has no criminal convictions, claimed he had not been told immediately where the teenager lived.

Judge Simon Newell told Mr Dar: 'It would be your word against somebody who is not a person of impeccable character.'

He said it was better to call an 'honourable draw' in the situation, and said it was 'not in the public interest to proceed'.

Earlier prosecutor Mr Ahmed Nadim told the hearing he had been instructed to prosecute the case and 'his hands were tied'.

He said: 'When police originally investigated the case and advice was sought from the Crown Prosecution Service, a lawyer advised no further action be taken.

'But a senior police officer then appealed that decision and a judgement was made that the disparity in ages between the defendant and the boy made the defendant's conduct intolerable.'

Mr Nadim continued: 'It was said the case should be tried in the public interest and the appropriate charge was false imprisonment.'

He said Mr Dar's case was that he wasn't told immediately where the teenager lived, there was a bit of driving, but it wouldn't have taken 15 to 20 minutes.

He said that the prosecution had sympathy for somebody in the defendant's position, trying to run a business and suffering nuisance thefts. But, he said: 'He did, and ought not to have, taken the law into his own hands.'

Miss Katherine Pierpoint, defending Mr Dar, said, 'He is extremely concerned. At the time he had run the shop with his father, who had since died.

'Mr Dar's brother-in-law was now in charge of the store. The defendant accepts in future he would deal with things in a slightly different way. He was upset about this and he did what he thought was right.'


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