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Police break in to elderly couple's home in wrong raid

PUBLISHED: 10:06 24 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:44 07 September 2010

AN elderly couple's Christmas has been ruined by bungling police who burst into their home in the middle of the night and caused thousands of pounds worth of damage. Child s Hill couple Veronica and Donald Martin were fast asleep when officers smashed do

AN elderly couple's Christmas has been ruined by bungling police who burst into their home in the middle of the night and caused thousands of pounds' worth of damage.

Child's Hill couple Veronica and Donald Martin were fast asleep when officers smashed down their front door, only to discover they had raided the wrong address.

The pensioners, who are still in shock, have been left with no secure front door for Christmas as police merely installed a zinc sheet and a padlock afterwards.

"This has completely ruined our Christmas - I can't believe the police are refusing to fix our front door or even apologise," said Mrs Martin, 69.

"I don't feel safe at all. When I look at the little padlock it makes me feel sick with worry."

Eight officers and two police dogs burst into the flat on Cricklewood Lane in the early hours of November 23. because police believed a suspected armed robber was in the house.

"We are an elderly couple and we were in bed around midnight," said Mr Martin. "Then we heard a horrible noise as the front door was smashed in. We thought we were being burgled - my wife was afraid she was going to get hurt."

After causing further destruction by kicking through the kitchen door and damaging the freezer and bathroom door, officers stormed up the stairs shouting, "Stop, police. Don't move."

When Mrs Martin, who is recovering from a brain tumour, asked why they hadn't knocked before charging through the flat, she claims an officer told her he was just doing his job.

The couple are still waiting for a full explanation of the botched raid, and said they expected the front door to be replaced within a couple of days.

But a month on, no action has been taken and police are still refusing to pay for the damage they caused.

"The police asked me if I had insurance that would cover the cost of the door, but why should I lose my no-claims?" said Mr Martin. "I have done absolutely nothing wrong."

As a token of apology, an inspector did visit the couple with a bunch of flowers. But Mrs Martin said she was disgusted with the gesture. "I want a front door, not flowers," she said. "I also want a proper apology."

The ordeal has also had a negative effect on her health.

"After my brain haemorrhage the hospital told me stay quiet and calm," she said. "Now I'm stressed and jumpy, and can't sleep because I keep thinking about what happened."

Child's Hill councillor Jack Cohen said: "It is quite obvious the police botched the operation and they should own up and pay for the damage they caused to the property and apologise for the damage they have done."

A police spokesman said: "Officers forced entry into a flat in Lisle Court as police believed the offender was inside the premises. We can confirm Brent police have received an official complaint and it is being investigated. Officers have been liaising with the occupiers of the premises.

"We are not legally obliged to pay any claim for damage caused during a search or a warrant and that includes negative searches.


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