Published: 25 July, 2013
by RICHARD OSLEY
A FORMER Conservative councillor arrested by police after a snowball fight got out of hand has criticised the time, money and resources spent on the case after he walked free from court with the charges against him completely thrown out.
Keith Sedgwick said officers in Gospel Oak could have spent the time invested in the five-month investigation chasing the culprits behind stabbings and shootings in the area instead.
He walked free from a charge of common assault at Tottenham Magistrates’ Court on Friday, ending a probe which dates back to an incident close to the Queen’s Crescent Community Centre during snowy weather in January.
Mr Sedgwick said an initially good-natured exchange of snowballs with a group of boys near his home had escalated into a more sour encounter, before he was accused of ripping one of the children’s coats in the melee and causing another to hit their head on the ground.
Accounts of the incident vary but Mr Sedgwick insisted there was no malice on his part and no intent to cause harm.
He said: “Residents knowing that within a calendar year previous to this event there had been two shootings and one stabbing within 30 seconds of where the snowball fight took place will be appalled that the police force have chosen to direct resources to dealing with this matter rather than anything more substantial.”
As police got involved, it is understood Mr Sedgwick admitted that he had later wished he had never got involved with the snowball fight but did not think it needed a criminal investigation.
He will not be able to recoup all of the costs of defending himself through the court system.
Mr Sedgwick was arrested several days after the incident. At the time he was being heavily linked with possibly standing for the Conservatives in the Gospel Oak by-election, held in March.
Mr Sedgwick, who works in tourism, said: “This has been an incredibly stressful period. I’ve had to undergo possible threats to my livelihood and working with children.”
He added that it had “threatened my reputation in the community where I’ve diligently worked to better the lot of disadvantaged youths”.
Mr Sedgwick said: “This situation has revealed the very worst and also the very best in my community. Fortunately, it’s the latter which outweighed the former. I’ve been touched deeply by the way in which people who I would least expect to come to my aid have done so and I thank you deeply for the support.”
His comments are thought to relate to the identity of those who were character witnesses.
Mr Sedgwick served four years as councillor in Gospel Oak until 2010 and is thought to be on the roster of candidates that the party will put up at next year’s boroughwide council elections.
He garnered a reputation for scrutinising police performance and challenging the work of the council’s anti-social behaviour teams, sometimes falling out with those who disagreed with his approach.
More recently, he has been involved in how tenants are represented in Gospel Oak, an ongoing source of disagreements in the area.
Friends said this week that the timing of the case had hampered Mr Sedgwick’s community work and there may have been missed opportunities for him while the case was going on.
A police spokesman said: “While we do not comment on individual cases, police investigate all allegations of assault and each case is presented to the Crown Prosecution Service, who determine whether a charge to prosecute is in order.
“Before this occurs, police make all the necessary and appropriate inquiries for each incident, using resources available, and procedures are followed correctly, which are always in accordance with the law.
“If a complaint is received, it will be investigated thoroughly.”