I blogged not so long ago about a 72 year old florist being arrested for stabbing and killing someone who was trying to rob his shop. Well after one and a half months he’s finally had the charges dropped.
A florist who stabbed to death an armed intruder at his shop in Greater Manchester will not be charged, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.
Cecil Coley, 72, was confronted by four men with guns and a knife at his shop in Old Trafford on 26 July.
Gary Mullings, 30, of New Moston, was fatally stabbed. Mr Coley was later arrested on suspicion of his murder.
But prosecutor Nazir Afzal said he was now satisfied Mr Coley had acted “in reasonable self-defence”.
Mr Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the north west, said: “It is difficult to envisage a more frightening set of circumstances than these.”
He said Mr Coley was confronted by the men as he locked up his shop in Shrewsbury Street.
As they forced their way inside, Mr Coley was injured and his friend knocked unconscious.
These facts were known almost from the start of the case, yet still Mr Coley was arrested and presumably had his DNA taken along with other indignities. Yet I cannot help but wonder at the police defence of themselves.
Ch Supt Mark Roberts, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “When presented with the circumstances of that evening the correct decision was to make the arrests. It was crucial that we conducted a thorough and open-minded investigation into the events.
“I am satisfied that we provided the full facts of the case to the CPS to enable them to make an appropriate decision.”
The decision itself to arrest Mr Coley in his place of work with his friend injured and a clear attempt at robbery in evidence does not strike me as a correct decision, far from it in fact. Mr Coley should have simply been told that he is a material witness and that his actions would be investigated but initially not charged.
Mr Afzal said householders, shopkeepers and “anyone going about their lawful day to day activities” would be protected by the law if they used reasonable force to protect themselves, their family or their property.
This is the correct response, that and a presumption of innocent until proven guilty, this is what the initial response of the police should be in a case like this, it’s not like Mr Coley stabbed his friend or a partner.
The government were supposed to be bringing in new guidelines to deal with situations like this where the police are too quick to arrest the innocent party with all the legal implications involved.
Mr Coley is free now (from the murder charge at least) yet what he got wasn’t justice, far from it.