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back to article Herts cops 'ate the evidence' at scene of crime, court told

Police may occasionally be accused of losing, abusing or even tampering with evidence – but eating it is almost certainly a first for any police force anywhere in the UK. Such was the allegation made by prosecutors at the Old Bailey, in respect of a case of torture and intimidation alleged to have taken place earlier this year …

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WTF?

Errr...

So how would the investigation be better off had the officers NOT eaten the pizzas?

They have the boxes that contain the details, so where is the problem?

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Vic
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Chain of Custody, perhaps?

It's not so much the eating, as the fact that the evidence was not treated as such. It was not logged as evidence, and was not properly preserved.

This makes it much easier to challenge in court. If it is the only evidence placing the suspects at the scene, that might mean a failed prosecution.

Vic.

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Flame

in fact...

Surely the case was better off this way. Had they officers not bought the pizzas, the delivery boy probably would have returned them to the shop, where they may have been chucked, or eaten by someone else.

flame logo cos reheated pizza is nom :D

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Coat

Re: Errr...

Presumably the evidence would be considered tainted because it wasn't handled or stored in an appropriate manner for a criminal investigation. The fact the food was eaten was incidental I feel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Errr...

Indeed.

What's more, it seems likely they would not have realised the phone number was on the box, had they not eaten the pizzas and retained the boxes.

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Paris Hilton

Box evidence not important...

...what matters is the linking of the phone number to the pizza order and delivery. And for that they will have the phone company logs, and the testimony of the pizza employee(s) involved.

So while the box's details may be dismissed as 'unsafe' evidence, the actual information is corroborated elsewhere, and I don't see why it would also be considered tainted.

Unless it had anchovies...they taint most things.

Paris - well put 2 and 2 together and you get...yes 69!

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Joke

2 and 2?

Nothing to do with the anchovies, then ?

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2 and 2 together=69

Wouldn't that be 138?

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FAIL

Silly plods

Had they been on the ball, they could have seized the pizzas and then eaten the contents for free

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Anonymous Coward

I don't see a problem here

unless, of course, the pizzas had pineapple on them

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Pint

That would have been a problem, yes...

I certainly wouldn't have bought the pizza if it had pineapple.

I love pineapple, but not after it has been mistreated as a pizza-topping.

The beer glass, because... what else goes so well with a pizza?

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Anonymous Coward

Was it a Klatchian Hots with anchovies?

You know how the cheese goes all manky when it gets cold*

*obligatory Pratchett quote

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FAIL

It's called preservation of evidence.

Prosecution: You ordered pizza's at such a time and date.

Defendent: Prove it.

Pros: Here are the boxes.

Def: Where the pizza, where were they kept?

Pros: The police ate the evidence and the boxes were in the boot of a car for a day.

Defence: I ordered no pizza (where are they) and someone probebrly scribbled thos notes on the boxes the next day.

Judge: Evidence is inadmisable as it is incomplete and incorrectly secured.

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alternatively

hmm, ok then, lets go and see what the pizza shop that took your order and noted down the delivery address has to say about this lack of pizza.

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Gates Horns

then they goto the pizza place directly

then they goto the pizza place directly to get the pizza order (most likely domino pizzas) as it will have the order on there systems for a long time (they still have my name and last order on there system for quite some time, when i reorder just tell them get the last one)

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RE: most likely domino pizzas

Almost certainly, as the article says it was a Dominoes delivery boy

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Silly Headline

Clearly the evidence was on the pizza box, not the pizzas. If the police hadn't bought them cheap and the boy had gone away then the evidence would have been lost.

Of course it's possible to argue that they should have realised the significance at the time, but without knowing the context, it's difficult to say. However, what they didn't do is eat the evidence as clearly they weren't very partial to masticating packing materials.

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Joke

Packing materials

>However, what they didn't do is eat the evidence as clearly they weren't very partial to masticating packing materials.

Clearly not otherwise they'd have gone to MacDonalds :)

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FAIL

Re "they should have realised the significance at the time"

Yes they should. The house was empty but they were given evidence on a plate (Sorry) that the suspect had intended to be in to receive the delivery. Hardly rocket science.

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Anonymous Coward

And this is a problem because...

... they can't show a moldy deep pan pizza in an evidence bag in court? What?

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No...

Because they don't have a freezer in the evidence room?

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Anonymous Coward

There's at least one at the morgue

And I'd be amazed if it's never been used to keep someone's lunch fresh

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Anonymous Coward

That seems unlikely.

It'd still be a waste of perfectly good pizza, though.

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Bronze badge

A perfectly good pizza?

I thought w'ed established it was a Domino's.

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Coat

Just waiting...

...for someone to come out with a "who ate all the..." style joke!

Ahem. I'll get me coat ;-)

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IT Angle

Double Errr ...

IT Angle? Regtards are all pizza lovers? Now if they'd ordered and prepaid for the pizza online ....

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WTF?

more like..

cops inadvertently gather evidence.

if they hadn't done what they did, then the pizza delivery guy probably would have taken the evidence away with him and later disposed of them.

the officers both secured and retained the 'crucial' pizza boxes.

it was the boxes (and attached papers) that were the evidence, not the pizza. since the police didn't eat the pizza boxes, they didn't eat the evidence. see?

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They didn't eat it, no, but

the fact that the evidence tying the perps to the location at the specific time was not treated as evidence.

If the evidence had been properly logged and dealt with, there would be much less chance for the defendants to argue that as it wasn't logged and recorded properly, the evidence is false.

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Anonymous Coward

It is not a dichotomy

It isn't either the fuzz ate the pizza and kept the boxes or the delivery boy took them back to the shop and disposed of them.

The alternate, and preferred option is that the filth had recognised the pizzas as evidence and secured them as such.

That the rozzers ate part of the evidence renders the entire evidence as suspect as others have already explained.

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Roald Dahl Got There First

...with a frozen leg of lamb as the murder weapon.

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Lamb to the Slaughter

is the title of the short story, incase anyone is interested.

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No, Spike Milligan got there first

With The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler (Of Bexhill-On-Sea) .

http://www.thegoonshow.net/scripts_show.asp?title=s05e03_the_dreaded_batter_pudding_hurler_of_bexhill

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Headmaster

So in what way

is October 1954 (the date this Goon Show aired) earlier than 1953 (the date Lamb to the Slaughter was published)?

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Would it have more value...

... if they had bagged the pizza and then pulled out a bag of sweaty mold 18 months later when the case finally makes it to court?!

By then there would be nothing to say that even ever WAS pizza!

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Boffin

Some boffin recently investigated

to what extent Big Macs go off when left uneaten (which I consider a decent strategy) and left around the office (which I consider less so) in various places.

By and large, they didn't.

I fully expect Domino pizzas to have similar properties.

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Coat

We're the Sweeny...

...and we haven't had our dinner.

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Happy

I was hoping for more Roald Dahl

Where the woman brains her husband with a frozen lamb leg, then roasts it and calls the police. When they arrive she serves them the roasted meat so as not to let it go to waste.

Dahl was a great author.

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Paris Hilton

I was hoping for more Roald Dahl **Spoiler**

The dead husband was a copper about to leave his wife (pregnant or recently given birth), right at the end one detective walks back into the room, you think he's made the connection, but instead clears the serving dish into the bin.

Paris cause shes the closest thing to the dancing girl on Tales of the Unexpected.

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Silver badge

"Instead" or "despite"?

He may well have made the connection (I can't remember if he's the one who says "The evidence must be under our very eyes") but decided that, given his recently-deceased-ex-colleague was quite the asshole, the already-taken course of action (i.e. eating the evidence) had best be pursued until the very end.

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How does the name on the order place you at the address?

He could have phoned in on the way home.

If it is a flat, you'd give the name on the buzzer, not your own name.

And surely the records would be kept at the pizza shop's computers as well as the label.

I think it was more of a lucky find anyway rather than it being easily visible evidence on the premises.

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alternatively

you could phone in asking for 15xl with everything on it, and give them someone else's name and address

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Flame

Evidence?

I fail to see how a pizza can be classed as evidence in this scenario. Can the pizza in question be used to prove that the suspect actually ordered it? If so, how are that going to happen. Since the suspect didn't receive the pizza (failure to deliver), no incriminating evidence was left behind in the form of saliva or finger prints or dental marks even. What also needs answering is the circumstance of the failed delivery. Was it because the suspect opened the door, saw the police, and ran, or was it because he heard the sirens a mile off and legged it before the pizza delivery guy even arrived? All this tells us is that "someone" ordered a pizza or two and it was to be delivered at said address.

Flame - cos I like my pizza flaming hot.

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Ah, amateur lawyering, bless

Prosecution brief: Pizza Boy, did you write the accused's details on a pizza box.

Pizza Boy: Fo' shizzle, dawg.

Prosecution brief: Is this your writing on this pizza box?

Pizza Boy: Dems is my marks, man.

Oh, right, you forgot about these old fashioned things called "witnesses", right?

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Thumb Up

This week of all weeks...

Sometimes a policeman has to think of the people who inspired him to take up his job and ask "What would Sergeant Frank Drebin do in this situation?"

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Sherlock Holmes beat them to it

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventure_of_the_Blue_Carbuncle

Ah. "Blue Carbuncle" doesn't refer to Jimmy Wales in that shirt.

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WTF?

RE: RE: Errrr....

Yeah maybe, but they DO have the boxes, that's the point. So the question still remains what do two cold and mouldy pizzas add to the case?

Nothing that I can see.

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FAIL

Totally inadmissible

The fact that the pizza boxes were not properly indentified as evidence the moment it came into police hands makes everything else they discovered from it as tainted.

This, because it was not logged at the scene of the alleged scene of crime, it could have been tampered with by the boys in blue, who of course, do not have any previous anywhere for fitting people up.

Had the pizza boy not arrived, they would not have known a pizza had been ordered so they would not have investigated phone records.

And from a tech angle, a mobile phone will not give a specific location from a call log. All that can be ascertained is which mast it was made from, putting it in a general area, rather than the address.

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Acceptable Evidence

I'm sure the court is fully empowered to decide what is, and what is not, allowable evidence. In this case I've no doubt there would have to be corroboration from the Pizza company and phone records as to the source of the order and delivery address plus witness identification who can attest to the hand writing.

You also don't look at something like this, or cell phone location information in isolation. Evidence is cummulative, so this may be just part of a picture. Ultimately it is for the court (and, most specifically, the jury) to decide on the credibility of this with the judge deciding what is, and is not, admissable as evidence.

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Fruit of the Poison Tree

It may be purely an American (Too much CSI in my TV diet) thing, but if the information obtained from the pizzeria was only gained because of the inadmissible evidence on the pizza boxes (failure to log/process, subject to tampering), then the chain of evidence is broken, and can't be used. If, however, they had got the details via questioning (and properly recording the details from) the delivery boy and followed the unbroken chain via him, the pizza boxes are irrelevant, and just made a good news story about porky plods.

Of course, I could be spouting utter shite here, but hey, that's US crime drama for you ;)

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Silver badge

CSI

is supposed to entertain, not inform.

Basing your legal views on CSI is as broken as thinking an a whole disk drive can be forensically searched and all the useful files copied to a USB stick in 15 seconds because that's what they did in some spy movie.

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