It’s still not justice

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.

8 comments for “It’s still not justice

  1. September 8, 2011 at 6:02 am

    No, it’s not, is it?

  2. Jack Savage
    September 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

    The arrest is understandable … I would expect it if I had stabbed someone to death in ANY circumstances. Even if I were 72. How could police know I was telling the truth about my self defence?

    The “charges” are another. I cannot see that he was charged. The report you have highlighted says “will not be charged”. So he has not ever been charged.

    It goes against my instincts to defend the police…ever, but I think you are being a bit hard on them here.

    You might otherwise have seen a headline along the lines of ” Police fail to arrest murderer (who then flees the country/kills again etc because he said “It was self-defence!” ”

    The presumption of innocence does not really apply here. For me, in these circumstances, it would depend how I was treated during the course of my arrest.

    Or am I missing something?

    • September 8, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      You’re missing the “it happened on his own premises whilst his mate was knocked unconscious” something the police knew from the start.
      See James post below.

    • September 9, 2011 at 5:45 am

      And then there’s the retention of DNA, fingerprints, etc…

  3. September 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I don’t expect many to agree but when an intruder comes onto your premises, whether home or shop, then anything which happens to said intruder is fair game, as far as I’m concerned. When I enter another person’s home, there are ethical rules of behaviour that need to be followed – it used to be called etiquette. The host sets the rules, can boot me out but can’t stab me until I make a move on him or her.

    • September 9, 2011 at 5:45 am

      Spot on.

  4. john in cheshire
    September 8, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    James, I agree with your sentiments. And I have said the same to my family. Aggression in defence of your home and your loved ones is justifiable. That is defensive aggression. Offensive aggression is not acceptable (or I can’t think of a situation where offensive aggression is acceptable). For the police to arrest a man for defending himself, his friends and his premises epitomises everything that is wrong with the extant policing methods in our country. I wonder if this man can sue those who arrested him? I wonder, also, how they now feel for doing so; are they remorseful,or too stupid to realise that they did wrong?

    • September 9, 2011 at 5:47 am

      I don’t think he can sue. But if he can, I wish him and the ambulance-chasing lawyers I’d usually scorn every success in the world!

      Until these decisions start to have severe consequences for those who make them, then they’ll keep on making ’em.

Comments are closed.