Stunned by public support
LITTLEPORT Tory councillor Fred Brown, who slapped a teenager he caught vandalising his business has been overwhelmed by the backing he has received. Letters, e-mails and phone calls have been flooding in since Cllr Brown was cleared of assault at Ely Ma
LITTLEPORT Tory councillor Fred Brown, who slapped a teenager he caught vandalising his business has been overwhelmed by the backing he has received.
Letters, e-mails and phone calls have been flooding in since Cllr Brown was cleared of assault at Ely Magistrates' Court last week.
People have been going into his menswear shop in the village and stopping him in the street to shake his hand.
They are unanimous in their support for the councillor and congratulate him for standing up to 15-year-old Luke Rainford.
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One well-wisher has even highlighted the case in a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair, and support has come from pensioner Janet Smith, who was stabbed in her Wilburton home by a teenager demanding money.
"It's been absolutely fantastic," said Cllr Brown, 60, who represents Littleport on the parish council and is fighting to retain his district council seat at the forthcoming elections. "I have even had calls of support from Yorkshire."
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Cllr Brown was cleared of common assault by Ely magistrates after they heard he slapped the teenager as he was about to lash out at him.
The court heard he had confronted the boy for vandalising his Granby Street launderette on August 22 last year. Rainford spat in his wife's face and called her a "fat cow".
Cllr Brown said he had no regrets about the action he took and said he would do it again in the same circumstances. "You have to defend yourself and your property.
"You can't use it as an excuse to go out there thumping people, but children shouldn't have the right to physically and verbally abuse people in the street.
"There have to be laws and rules but the problem comes in the way the police interpret them. Common sense prevailed at the end of the day."
As the Standard reported last week, Cllr Brown said his case had highlighted chronic shortcomings in policing in Littleport.
Presiding magistrate Hamish Ross had said: "In the absence of police help, which had been requested, Mr Brown felt a duty of care ... he acted in self-defence and used reasonable force."
Ely police Insp Adam Gallop said: "It is regrettable that Councillor Brown's experience in court has apparently led to some condemnation of the police presence in Littleport.
"Of course, I am concerned when members of the public feel that policing does not live up to their expectations, and this is one key area to be tackled as neighbourhood policing develops."
Cllr Brown said he intended to raise the issue at the district council after the elections.