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Stop and search victim wins police payout

COMPENSATION: Leon Sinclair with his mother Mervis McKenzie

LONDON POLICE have paid compensation to a personal training student after he was wrongly arrested following a stop and search.

Leon Sinclair received £4,000 after experiencing an eight-hour ordeal at the hands of the police. He was accused of possessing drugs and asked if he was carrying an offensive weapon. All he was carrying was a scalpel issued by his college for his art course.

No drugs were found and the student was only found to be carrying cash totaling £1.40.

Sinclair said he had told officers he had a scalpel on him when asked if he was carrying an offensive weapon.

He told them the scalpel was for an art course he was studying at Harrow College, in northwest London, and suggested they call the college to confirm. Sinclair even handed them his college identification number.

The then 18-year-old from Cricklewood, north London, was arrested and handcuffed, despite pleading with them that they had made a mistake.

He was taken to Colindale police station where he was ordered to strip and forced to spend nearly eight hours in a prison cell before being released, missing a full day at college.


Sinclair, who had no criminal record, said at the time of the incident in December 2008: “I was told to strip and made to squat. One of them said I had a good body and asked me if I worked out. I was shocked and embarrassed.

“This only happened because of the way I look. I am 18. I wear baggy pants and hoodies but that doesn’t make me a criminal.”

Now 22-years-old, he told The Voice that the money he received didn’t make up for what happened but added: “In some way I guess there is justice because they had to pay out a bit.”

Angered by her son’s ordeal, Sinclair’s mother Mervis McKenzie said she could not let the matter rest and so took action.

She said when she first contacted the police to make a complaint, they responded by “trying to sweep it under the carpet. But I wasn’t having it."

She said that it was only when she threatened to take the matter to court that police offered him compensation.

"They could have affected my son for the rest of his life. It really did get me upset,” she said.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman confirmed the compensation and that it was related to officers stopping Sinclair in the Cricklewood Lane area on December 8, 2008.

In a statement, the Met police said: "The man was in possession of a knife, which he stated was for use during a college art and design course."

“The man was arrested for possession of blade, contrary to s139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. He was taken into custody at a police station, where a strip search for weapons was carried out.

“He was released without further action. The man brought a civil action for wrongful arrest, and in March 2012 he agreed to accept £4,000 plus a percentage of costs in settlement. Liability was not admitted by the MPS.”

The Met added: “Total Policing is the Met’s commitment to be on the streets and in your communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.”

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