Cafe owner arrested for confronting yobs who 'tormented' him

Posted On 29 Apr 2010 at 1:50 pm

A CAFE owner who tried to make a citizen’s arrest after being threatened by a gang of yobs was HIMSELF arrested on suspicion of assault.

Bob Young, 53, claims the gang of teenage skateboard hoodies had been hanging around his business in Brighton for months, tormenting him and his customers.

He said they started shouting and threatening to break his windows so he held one by the shoulders to detain him while his partner, Sarah Hills, called police.

However when EIGHT officers arrived, they let the boy go – and arrested Mr Young.

Mr Young, who describes himself as an “upright and well-respected member of the community”, was held in a police cell for 12 hours before being released on police bail.

He refused to accept a caution, insisting he had done nothing wrong, and is now waiting to hear if he will be charged with assault.

This is the SECOND time he has been arrested for standing up to thugs. He was cleared of assault by Brighton magistrates in 2007 after he was hauled into court for confronting a different gang of older youths who had threatened to stab him.

He and Ms Hills, 49, have run the As You Like It Cafe in Brighton city centre for 13 years.

Mr Young said the most recent incident, on April 12, left him bruised and shaken.

He said: “I was closing up the cafe when a gang of 15-year-olds came round the corner on their skateboards.

“Before I knew it, I was surrounded by eight hoodies swearing and trying to provoke me.

“They have been coming here for months, upsetting my customers, calling me names and even throwing stones at Sarah.

“I was scared they would attack me, so I picked up one of their skateboards to stop them using it as a weapon.

“Then this little so-and-so said ‘I’m going to break your f***ing windows you old c***!”

“That’s when I made a citizen’s arrest on him and Sarah called the police. I have a right to defend my property, and I won’t be called words like that.

“One of the boy’s friends started punching me in the arm, but I held on.

“I am not a strong man. I have weak lungs and suffer from blood clots and a serious gut disease. But I held on because I wanted justice. I was very careful not to hurt him.”

Mr Young, who had already called police out twice this year over anti-social problems with the same gang, said he was sickened by what happened next.

He said: “Eight police officers turned up, spoke to the kid, and arrested me.

“They wouldn’t listen to a word I said, or to friends who saw what happened. They said they weren’t independent witnesses.

“The police acted as judge and jury and got everything the wrong way round.

“I am the victim, but there I was in handcuffs.

“They held me in the cells for 12 hours, while the little brat got off scot-free.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said Mr Young’s reaction was “disproportionate”.

He said: “There was no criminal activity by the youths, no violence shown by the victim and we believe that the action of the arrested man was disproportionate and displayed unnecessary aggression.

“A number of witnesses have come forward and our enquiries are continuing.”

He said skateboarding was not an offence and therefore Mr Young had no right to touch the youth.

However Mr Young said: “I didn’t try to arrest him because he was skateboarding. He made explicit threats and I was worried for my safety and that of my customers.

“I hope they charge me. I want my day in court. I just don’t have any confidence in the police at the moment.

“The youth of today are out of control. Something in society is broken when children go around swearing and threatening adults without fear of punishment.

“I refuse to give up the right to defend my property.”

Professor Gloria Laycock, an expert in crime prevention who worked at the Home Office for more than 30 years, said police need to be much clearer about when people can make citizen’s arrests.

She said: “The whole area is ambiguous.

“Anyone is allowed to make a citizen’s arrest if they use reasonable force, but it is not at all clear what ‘reasonable force’ actually is.

“And it is unclear whether you can arrest someone if they are about to break the law, or for threatening you.

“This is a big problem, because if we are going to have any chance of tackling anti-social behaviour people must be prepared to intervene.

“The idea that the police can stop this kind of behaviour without public help is just plain wrong.

“I think we need to get back to a culture where adults are prepared to restrain misbehaving children without being afraid they will end up being arrested themselves.”

**In March this year, Sussex Police apologised for arresting restaurant owner Sal Miah, from Crowborough, East Sussex, after he restrained a youth who was breaking into his alcohol storeroom.

**In June, 2008 the same force apologised to Frank McCourt, an ex-soldier from Crawley, West Sussex, who was arrested for kidnap after he made a citizen’s arrest on a hooligan who attacked his home.

**In September last year courier driver Roland Digby, from Royston, Hertfordshire, was arrested for assault after he restrained a 16-year-old yob who threw apples at his house. Charges against Mr Digby were later dropped.

John Connor Press Associates – covering Sussex for the national press.

Contact us with your stories on 01273 486 851 or email news@jcpa.co.uk.

  1. Simon Love Reply

    Socialism is responsible for the break down of law and order, and for creating a generation of yobs who have not respect for people.

    The day National Service was stopped, was the beginning of the end for this society. You need discipline in a society, or you’ll just wind up with anarchy…

    Now the government are cutting back on the number of police. I dread to think where it’s all going to end…

  2. Clive Reply

    @Simon Love – free market capitalism has been the dominant ideology in this country for the last 30 years. Socialism is (or ought to be) about respecting other people as equals. It may not always have worked out quite like that in the past, but in looking for a belief system to blame, you are looking in the wrong place.

    And I can’t see how herding people into the armed forces is necessarily going to help behaviour either. Community service might be different.

  3. Simon Love Reply

    @Clive And I can’t see how herding people into the armed forces is necessarily going to help behaviour either.

    Well, let me explain it—All the young yobs who currently run amok in this society and do whatever they want (like the little toe rags this article is based on), are disciplined when they’re put into the army.

    They ignore their parents, they can physically attack their teachers at school. They can laugh at the police etc etc. However, when they’ve got some heavy duty Sergeant Major on their case, if they try any of that bullshit with the Sergeant Major, well let’s just say he’ll make sure they wish they hadn’t bothered. When they come out of the army, they’ve learnt discipline and they’ve learned to respect.

    I know you socialists don’t agree with what I’m saying, however, I stand by my earlier argument that socialism has destroyed the UK, by destroying the foundations of discipline.

  4. Clive Reply

    You still haven’t explained how socialism can have ‘destroyed the UK, by destroying the foundations of discipline’ when it’s been so completely out of the reckoning in influencing the policies of recent governments. I’d say the ‘me first’ attitude promoted by unfettered market capitalism has far more to do with any decline in behavioural standards.

    I agree that some ‘toe rags’ might find a spell in the forces beneficial. In other cases teaching them how to handle deadly weapons could be just about the worst possible thing to do. And national service herded pretty well everyone into the armed forces regardless – so what about British liberty?

    The original article here is pretty bad – all from one person’s point of view. There could be more to this.

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