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 …

COMMENTS

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  1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    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?

    1. Vic

      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.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
        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!

        1. Captain TickTock
          Joke

          2 and 2?

          Nothing to do with the anchovies, then ?

        2. asiaseen

          2 and 2 together=69

          Wouldn't that be 138?

    2. soddit112
      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

    3. Darren Coleman
      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.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    5. AgeingBabyBoomer
      FAIL

      Silly plods

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

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't see a problem here

    unless, of course, the pizzas had pineapple on them

    1. Trygve Henriksen
      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?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was it a Klatchian Hots with anchovies?

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

    *obligatory Pratchett quote

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Rob 30

      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.

    2. leexgx
      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)

      1. Shaun 1

        RE: most likely domino pizzas

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

  5. Steven Jones

    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.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      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 :)

    2. Anonymous John
      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.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is a problem because...

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

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      No...

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That seems unlikely.

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

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          A perfectly good pizza?

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

  7. Roger Stenning
    Coat

    Just waiting...

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

    Ahem. I'll get me coat ;-)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Double Errr ...

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

  9. Sillyfellow
    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?

    1. Lottie

      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  10. yellerKat

    Roald Dahl Got There First

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

    1. Colin Miller

      Lamb to the Slaughter

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

    2. Alan Firminger

      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

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        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)?

  11. T-Unit

    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!

  12. PaulK
    Coat

    We're the Sweeny...

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

  13. Thecowking
    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.

  14. Wize

    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.

    1. D@v3

      alternatively

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

    2. Mark York 3 Silver badge
      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.

      1. Stoneshop 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.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge
      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.

  15. Rogerborg

    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?

  16. breakfast
    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?"

  17. brimful
    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.

  18. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    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.

  19. John I'm only dancing
    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.

  20. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    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.

    1. Steven Jones

      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.

      1. Shane Orahilly

        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 ;)

        1. Charles Manning

          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.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Actually, As A dominos pizza delivery boy,

    let me say, the delivery boy did not write the details down, they are on a printed sticker, which is automatically printed by the useless slow computers, the moment the pizza goes in the oven. On that sticker is the following details,

    Customers phone number who made the order,

    The date and time of the order,

    The address where the order is to be delivered to,

    Name of the pizza and any extra toppings,

    And optionally, but not definately the buyers name, although if your paying cash you could use any name. Also if its a web order, the phone number will not be verified.

    Also,

    Anyone (say a nasty neighbour) or cops looking to set you up to say you were at the scene when you weren't, could use a phone number which hasn't been use to order a pizza before, and order a pizza to any address and if it was cash, the shop would be none the wiser.

  22. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    "a case of torture and intimidation"

    Was the accused threatening to torture somebody with pizza? I know Domino’s pizzas are pretty unappetizing, but that seems extreme.

    Now, if it had been Pizza Hut...

  23. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    It's about "reasonable doubt".

    As a mathematician, if I was a juror, I'd assess the credibility and weight of this evidence, and multiply it with the other evidence, and decide whether the answer was reasonable or not. Sort of.

    I am assuming that the pizza company logs your phone number or phones you back on it to confirm precisely because of nuisance calls from mischievous neighbours and also from other pizza and fast food delivery companies, not to mention the local protection gang although with them it's probably best just to pay up on demand. With them you don't lose the fee, you lose a member of staff.

  24. F111F
    Thumb Up

    Tags

    I'm just impressed that The Reg has "Pizza" and "Dominos" tags. Too bad there's no "pizza" icon, 'cause I'd order mine with tuna and bannas (from an ad a LONG time ago in the U.K.)

  25. Keith Williams
    WTF?

    Not sure what evidence the pizza was

    Reading the article, I fail to see what evidence the Pizza order represented. The police arrived at the suspect's home - not the site of the crime, so they already knew he lived there. The pizza was of no use proving that he actually lived there. The suspect had already decamped, so the pizza supplied no information as to his present whereabouts. So what's the point?

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Not sure what evidence the pizza was

      "key details were written on the pizza box including the suspect’s address, the time of order and a mobile phone number....

      "It was only subsequently that the pizza boxes were found in the back of a police car and a phone number was found on one of them and it came to light that the officers had eaten the evidence.”

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Re: Not sure what evidence the pizza was.

        The pizza wasn't evidence: The pizza box was. The police didn't eat the pizza-box, ergo the police didn't eat the evidence.

        Lawyer over-stating the case. Who'da thunk it.

  26. Marcus Aurelius
    Paris Hilton

    Pizzas as evidence

    Would be extremely mouldy and stink to high heaven by the time the case got to court.

    It was a clear duty of the police officers to remove material which may contaminate the actual evidence i.e the pizza boxes, and the best way of doing that was nom nom nom.....

    Paris, because she's an expert at eating out...

  27. Martin Maloney
    Grenade

    Memories of my evil youth

    In the days before Caller ID, and during a time when pizza parlors were busy, as during the telecast of a game, a great way to harass an enemy was to send him a pizza. That is, impersonate the enemy on the phone when calling in the order. The business would be too busy to call back, to verify the order.

    Oops -- did I say "MY evil youth?"

  28. Sam Therapy
    Happy

    Anyone remember Fat Sweaty Coppers?

    This article reminded me of the Fast Show characters, is all.

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