‘Burglar caught on CCTV’ walks free

Paul Harvey: String of convictions

A notorious criminal walked free from court after a police officer failed to turn up to give evidence.

Paul Harvey, 21, had been accused by a shopkeeper of stealing from the till, harassing him and making racist threats.

CCTV appeared to show him in the takeaway pizza shop and raiding the till. But the case was dismissed by magistrates after the officer failed to attend court.

It is the latest embarrassing example of police falling down on job. The Daily Mail has highlighted how forces around the country find time to mount silly stunts, despite often complaining of being cash strapped.

Victim Luqman Qadir says he has lost all faith in the ability of police to protect him and other shopkeepers. Mr Qadir, who owns City Pizza, in Middlesbrough, said: ‘I feel absolutely let down – it’s a disgrace.’

The alleged crimes were committed between August 19 and September 1, and Harvey, who denied the charges, was due to stand trial at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on October 26.

Cleveland Police say they have apologised to Mr Qadir but have not explained why their officer was not there.

Harvey, who has previously been convicted of attacking his mother and threatening to kill his pregnant girlfriend, has made more threats against the shop owner since the bungled case, Mr Qadir claims.

On Tuesday he reported Harvey to police once again for making death threats – but officers said they could not take a statement for two days.

Mr Qadir, 34, a former community police officer in London, said: ‘I have zero trust in the police. They have no idea what they are doing, and the way they treat us is absolutely atrocious.

Caught in the act: CCTV showing the raider in the pizza takeaway

Caught in the act: CCTV showing the raider in the pizza takeaway

‘There was massive damage – smashed windows, everything was upside down. We had the CCTV. When he was arrested he had a nine-inch machete. He threatened the police officer.

‘Police say Paul Harvey should not be allowed on this street and yet they don’t turn up to court to get him convicted.’ Mr Qadir also claims Harvey set fire to his shop on September 1 as three people slept in the flat above, and that police failed to investigate properly.

The trio escaped harm but the attack cost him £14,000 in repairs and lost business.

Harvey, who lives a few doors from the shop, has been convicted of more than 20 offences, including a robbery when he was aged 14.

Other traders on the street said police had regularly overlooked anti-social behaviour and gang violence on the street.

Last month police chiefs were told by a retired senior Scotland Yard detective that their increasingly bizarre gimmicks are undermining the job of tackling crime and that they should get officers back on the beat.

The takeaway's owner Luqman Qadir

The takeaway’s owner Luqman Qadir

After figures showed that almost every type of crime was up, officers were criticised for garishly painting their nails, posing for photos in bumper cars and stroking puppies for stress relief.

At the time, the Mail reported that a pharmacy, in Stockton-on-Tees, which is also in the Cleveland Police area, had been forced to hire a £1,200 per month ex-Royal Marine as a bouncer because the owner could not trust the same force to protect the shop and his customers.

Commenting on Mr Qadir’s case, a force spokesman said: ‘We acknowledge that, had a particular police witness been present at court, the case would in all likelihood have gone ahead. We share the victim’s disappointment that [the case] did not proceed.

‘We are firmly committed to the pursuit of all forms of hate crime and we have offered to meet the victim to apologise.

‘Meanwhile further inquiries will be carried out to establish what exactly went wrong.’

She added that the alleged arson did not result in a charge due to insufficient evidence.


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