A husband and wife who were assaulted in their own home, unlawfully arrested and detained by the Metropolitan Police, and subsequently maliciously prosecuted, have received an undisclosed pay-out, despite the force maintaining it has ‘…nothing to apologise for’.
Mrs Aldires Dall’Agnol Bugia and her husband were asleep in their home with their two sons (aged 19 and 11) in Somers Town, London NW1 on Easter Sunday evening in April 2013, when four officers demanded entry to their property, claiming a suspect from an alleged drug deal had been seen entering their property.
Mrs Bugia asked the officers for a warrant but was told that none was required because they believed that Class A drugs were hidden on the premises. It was at this point that Mrs Bugia’s arm was grabbed by one of the officers and she was pushed against a wall while the officers entered the property. During the incident, she was also kicked on both of her legs and punched on her right arm by the same officer.
Mr Bugia then woke up after hearing the commotion in his home. After being shouted at and told to shut up, two officers punched him in the head and dragged him outside to a balcony, where he was handcuffed and received a number of blows to his back, head and neck.
Shortly after, a second group of officers arrived and searched the property for drugs, finding nothing. However, both Mr and Mrs Bugia were arrested for assault and obstruction of two of the officers in the execution of their duties. The couple were taken to Holborn police station – Mr Bugia still in his pyjamas. He was later taken to University College Hospital for treatment as a result of his injuries. Photographs taken after the incident show the couple suffering from deep bruising and cuts.
While in custody, Mr and Mrs Bugia were further arrested for alleged immigration offences, despite being EU nationals. These offences were also unfounded but the couple were held in police custody for approximately 22 hours and charged with assaulting a police officer in the execution of their duties.
The couple then had to endure a two-day trial at Highbury Magistrates’ Court in June 2013 to defend the malicious prosecution, and also pay for their own legal representation. However, the trial judge, District Judge Allison acquitted Mr and Mrs Bugia, noting inconsistencies in the four officers’ accounts of the events, the lack of evidence of injuries to one officer, plus the lack of evidence from any other officer about the alleged assault and the positive evidence of injury to Mrs Bugia.
Susie Labinjoh, civil liberties partner at London law firm, Hodge Jones & Allen, represented Mr and Mrs Bugia in their legal action against the police and said: “This is as clear cut a case of assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution that you will ever see. Two people asleep at home, assaulted by a gang of police officers must be everyone’s worst nightmare. Yet, not only did my clients have to endure this, they were then arrested and prosecuted amid false claims that they were the guilty party just so the police could attempt to justify their actions.
“It is appalling that such a chain of events could have been allowed to happen. To add insult to injury, and despite the clear findings of Judge Allison and the police’s decision to pay compensation, the Met still refuse to apologise, claiming they have nothing to apologise for.”
Mrs Aldries Dall’Agnol Bugia, says: “I am a law-abiding citizen and had done nothing wrong, yet me and my husband were attacked by the police in our own home and then taken to court for it. I always felt that the police officers were looking for ways to charge us even though they were the ones who assaulted us. It was just pure nastiness on their part. To be in custody never having had any contact with the police and knowing your 11-year-old is left behind without his mum was heartbreaking.
“The trial was pure torture and hearing a verdict of not guilty was an out of body experience. Me and my husband just cried and cried, the relief that finally we were believed was immense.
“While the physical bruises might have healed, the mental scars have not. Even now, over four years’ later, every time someone knocks on our door I feel scared. That feeling will never leave me. As a result, I have become very reclusive. I no longer work as a teacher and interpreter, but my volunteer work and the church keep me going.
“We’re angry and disappointed that the police have refused to apologise but we cannot go on fighting them, we just want to move on with our lives.”
For further information, please contact:
Kerry Jack at Black Letter Communications
020 3567 1208
Notes for Editors
Hodge Jones and Allen
- Hodge Jones and Allen is one of the UK’s most progressive law firms, renowned for doing things differently and fighting injustice. Its managing partner is Patrick Allen, recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by Solicitors Journal.
- For 40 years’ the firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.
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