Cops arrest girl for being drunk and disorderly, hold her in cell for 10 hours and then drag her to court.she wasn't drunk, just autistic
Autistic girl spent ten hours in a cell – because police wrongly thought she was drunk
- Melissa Jones, 17, was finger-printed and had her DNA taken
- Mother, Christine Evans, 49, said her daughter had been been through 'hell'
- Jones was charged with being drunk and disorderly
- Teenager became suicidal while waiting eight months for case to go to trial
By Liz Hull
Autistic Melissa Jones, pictured, has been through 'hell' after police wrongly believed she was drunk
A teenage girl with autism was arrested and hauled before the courts because police mistakenly assumed she was drunk.
Despite being completely sober, 17-year-old Melissa Jones spent ten hours in a police cell, was finger-printed and had her DNA taken.
She was charged with being drunk and disorderly, forced to appear in court and became suicidal while waiting eight months for her case to go to trial.
Last week, however, prosecutors finally realised they had got it wrong and agreed to drop the case against her.
Her mother, Christine Evans, 49, a training manager, yesterday said her daughter, who also has learning difficulties, had been through ‘hell’. ‘Having this hanging over her for the past eight months has had a terrible effect on her,’ said divorcee Miss Evans.
‘She has a basic understanding of right and wrong, so to be arrested for something she didn’t do was devastating.
‘She has tried to commit suicide and is having weekly counselling. She hardly ever goes out any more.’
Miss Jones’s ordeal began shortly before midnight on June 16 last year when she and a friend went to a shop near her home in Edge Hill, Liverpool, to buy some Coca-Cola.
Another customer, a drunken woman, became aggressive when the assistant refused to serve her, and attacked Miss Jones and her friend when they intervened.
Both girls were stamped on and suffered severe bruising.
When police arrived the attacker had fled, and Miss Jones was crying and hysterical. Despite her protestations, police assumed she had been drinking and arrested her.
Miss Jones spent ten hours in a police cell, was finger-printed and had her DNA taken (file photo)
Her mother ran to the shop and told officers that Melissa had autism, attention deficit disorder and communication difficulties.
‘But they didn’t want to know,’ she said. ‘Melissa hadn’t had a drop of alcohol, but they said she was drunk.
‘At the police station, a doctor confirmed she hadn’t been drinking, but still the police tried to pursue her through the courts.
‘I’ve got a lot of time for the police and the work they do, but this time they really let Melissa down.’ The police offered Miss Jones a £60 fixed penalty but she refused to admit her guilt.
Instead she was summonsed to appear before court in November last year, where she was formally charged with being drunk and disorderly.
Miss Jones, who is studying bakery at college, was due to face trial next month but was told last week that the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to drop the case.
Her solicitor Mark Ellis, of James Murray Solicitors, said: ‘Melissa has been through a terrible ordeal.
‘She is a vulnerable young girl who should never have been arrested or put before the courts.’
A spokesman for the CPS said: ‘After the first hearing in November 2012 the CPS reviewed the case, including new information from the defence, and decided that the available evidence was insufficient to prove that Miss Jones was drunk and disorderly.’
Merseyside police said a 25-year-old woman who allegedly attacked Miss Jones was later arrested but not charged due to ‘lack of evidence’.