HOME > Case Studies >

Head of the Actions Against the Police Department at Irvings Law, Mr Matthew McConville, has successfully represented a client against a Police Force in a claim for false imprisonment, associated assault, trespass to land, malicious procurement of a warrant and human rights breaches. Due to the sensitivity of this case and the confidential settlement reached between the parties, they wish to remain anonymous for the purposes of this blog. As such, Mr McConville’s client will be referred hereon as ‘Mr J’ and the Police Force as ‘PF’.


Mr J was living abroad to care for his terminally-ill father prior to his death but after this, he returned home to be closer to his terminally-ill mother and resumed work. On the day in question, Mr J returned from work after a night shift and so when he left work, he went to visit his friend but when he got to his residence, it was clear that he had been murdered from a stab wound. As such, Mr J called PF right away and waited for Officers to attend.

Despite this, Mr J was arrested on suspicion of murder because he had some cuts on his body (which were from his work the night before) and because he had blood on his clothes (from consoling his friend). The said arrest was captured on body worn video which recorded that Mr J informing the attending Officers of the above as well as telling them that his employer could verify the source of the cuts on his hands and that employer would have the same too. In addition, Mr J mentioned that his mother was terminally ill and that he was meant to visit her that day to “say goodbye” but still despite these things was still arrested.

At the Police Station, the cuts upon Mr J were not examined to ascertain their age and/or provenance and in terms of his clothing, Mr J was strip searched and the CCTV footage records him being visibly uncomfortable throughout the same; expectedly. At one point, Mr J was completely naked for around 12 seconds and turned towards the wall in an attempt to create some privacy and maintain some dignity but the Officers did not look away. After this, Mr J was interviewed but was not even asked about the said cuts upon his body which was one of the reasons why he was arrested in the first place.

After many repeated requests, Mr J was eventually escorted to visit his terminally-ill mother but was handcuffed throughout the visit despite his request to have them taken off. During this, there were multiple Officers standing around Mr J’s mothers’ bed when he saw her which was highly distressing for him especially as this was compounded by his mother subsequently passing away while he remained in pre-charge detention.

During his detention, Mr J’s property was then searched and the result of which no items were discovered that linked him to the death of his friend. Mr J was then interviewed again but this time was asked about the cuts on his body and he gave the same answers that he did prior to his arrest. When Mr J’s electrical items were examined, the same showed that he was not near his friend at the likely time of his death and supported his version of events that he provided before arrest and during interview. Despite the clothing being taken from Mr J due to the blood upon it, the same were never in fact sent for forensic examination.

Despite the above and the person whom was later convicted of such a murder being a real suspect known by PF, PF submitted an application requesting a warrant of further detention to the Court to detain Mr J for longer even though all of his further interviews related to questioning as a witness or intelligence source rather than a suspect; names of other suspects were actually put to Mr J and a comments upon them requested by PF.

After four days in custody, Mr J was finally released with No Further Action in relation to the murder charge because there was “no evidence at this stage to suggest that [Mr J] was involved in the murder of [his friend]”. Subsequent to his detention, Mr J lodged a complaint with PF regarding his arrest, detention and strip search. During the  investigation, the Investigating Officer denied that Mr J had been stripped completely naked but the CCTV disproved that account and when reviewed properly, the said complaint regarding the strip search was upheld and Mr J given an apology with the Investigating Officer was given training and management advice. Later that year, one of the main suspects known to PF at the beginning of Mr J’s detention was convicted of the murder of Mr J’s friend and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 24 years.


Rightly, Mr J wanted compensation for what happened to him and sought Mr McConville for specialist assistance who offered no win, no fee terms to Mr J without hesitation and once instructed, Mr McConville sent a Letter of Claim to PF alleging that Mr J was falsely imprisoned (due to their being no reasonable suspicion or necessity to arrest him), that there was a trespass to land (due to his property being searched during an unlawful arrest), malicious procurement of a warrant (due to extending his detention when no grounds to even detain him in the first place) and human rights infringements (due to being strip searched and left completely naked in contravention of the Police Code) not to mention an associated assault from all these things being proven such as Mr J’s handcuffing arising from an unlawful arrest but also the significant psychological damage caused to him due to how he was treated by PF which amounted to a diagnoses of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In addition to the above claim for basic damages, Mr McConville also alleged a large amount of aggravating features which would give rise to additional compensation such as Mr J’s arrest being in full view of his employer whom turned up at the scene, Mr J not being treated with the appropriate dignity and respect during his detention (in particular in relation to the strip search and the procurement of warrants), PF’s failure to apologise to Mr J save for in relation to the unlawful strip search, PF’s detention during his mother’s last days of life caused him acute distress and anxiety which was further exacerbated by the fact her last image of him was in handcuffs and none of PF’s officers have faced any disciplinary proceedings in relation to the treatment of Mr J.


Despite all of this, PF’s legal team decided to deny liability. As such, Mr McConville advised Mr J to issue and serve Court proceedings which he followed and once he served his Court paperwork, PF wanted to settle Mr J’s claim. Against advice (due to Mr J not having completed his recommended psychological treatment following his PTSD diagnoses), he settled his claim for a significant amount of compensation plus his legal costs on the basis that he can use the same to move on with his life as best as he can.

Author: Matthew McConville