Hackney man cleared of Olympic attack raps legal system

Mike Wells walks free from court. Photo Emma Bartholomew

Mike Wells walks free from court. Photo Emma Bartholomew - Credit: Archant

A man who spent eight days in jail after being wrongly accused of assaulting a digger driver at the Olympic basketball site has slammed the legal system after the case was dropped.

Photos taken at the incident on Leyton Marsh

Photos taken at the incident on Leyton Marsh - Credit: Archant

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) pursued the case against Hackney photographer and film-maker Mike Wells, alleging that he had assaulted Charlie Warren at the Leyton Marsh site in April in a bid to stop him destroying “the land he loved”.

But 53-year-old Mr Wells always maintained that he did not take part in a protest against the £5million construction work in Lea Bridge Road.

He said he was making a film about it and that he was attacked when he approached digger driver Mr Warren to express concerns that he was working dangerously.

Mr Wells initially faced six months on remand after his arrest at the site but was freed on bail after eight days.

And last Thursday a judge at Stratford Magistrates’ Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence against Mr Wells, leaving him to walk free.

At the trial, Mr Warren, whose evidence in court conflicted with that in his police statement, said he had not wanted to testify. The other two witnesses – called by the defence – said they had shared Mr Wells’s safety concerns,but had not seen the fight break out.

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Speaking after the hearing, Mr Wells, who lives on a boat moored on the River Lea near Millfields, said: “Justice has been done, but often isn’t done, and even though I didn’t commit the crime I was alleged to have committed I have so little faith in the legal system, especially in the lower courts.

“The evidence mounted against me in this case was pretty much like the evidence given to support a £24billion project that was deeply flawed.

“I think the authorities have probably pursued this because it’s connected with the Olympics and it had a political element to it, in that to protest to the Olympics was wrong.”

Prior to his arrest, local protesters had been joined by anti-capitalist group Occupy to block lorries entering the controversial site behind the ice rink on Lea Bridge Road, until the Olympic Delivery Authority took out a costly injunction against them.

Charlie Warren escaped unharmed from the incident, while Mr Wells sustained a cut to his face and an ambulance was called for his suspected broken ribs.

The CPS wanted to keep Mr Wells on remand until the case came to court, which would have resulted in a total of six months behind bars.