Bristol

Disabled mother and son say police failings similar to Ebrahimi case

Elderly woman
Image caption Ruth Jones says that even after the years of abuse she doesn't want to move from the house in Sea Mills

A disabled mother and her son have accused police of failing to address four years of "relentless" hate crime directed at them.

Ruth and Zac Jones from Bristol have logged some 50 complaints with police.

So far no-one has been caught but police said they were "mindful" of the family's vulnerability.

The pair claimed the abuse and threats they have suffered have been similar to those experienced by Bijan Ebrahimi, in the lead-up to his murder in 2013.

Since 2016, the Jones family has reported to the police a catalogue of abuse aimed at them and damage to their property - including a brick thrown through the window of their council house and four vehicles set alight on their driveway.

Posters labelling them - wrongly - as paedophiles were put up around their local area.

'Sided with abusers'

They believe they have been targeted because they are disabled and feared they could suffer the same fate as Mr Ebrahimi.

Disabled Iranian refugee Mr Ebrahimi was beaten to death and set alight by his neighbour Lee James, on another Bristol estate in 2013.

He too was wrongly branded a paedophile.

A report by the Safer Bristol Partnership found Avon and Somerset Police and Bristol City Council had been "institutionally racist" and to have "repeatedly sided with abusers" during their investigation.

Ch Insp Mark Runacres, of Avon and Somerset Police, said he believed the force had made great strides since the Ebrahimi case.

Image caption Zac also goes out every week to pick up rubbish in his own neighbourhood

Ms Jones, 57, only has the use of one hand following a brain haemorrhage and her 29-year-old son has Asperger's and a rare skin condition called epidermal nevus.

He has been through more than a dozen operations but still has visible dark blotches on his skin.

Mr Jones said verbal abuse was a daily occurrence on his council estate in Sea Mills.

"It happens every day, every time I go out there, it always happens," he said.

"I get bullying in some way, shape or form. It's just awful.

"We just want to be able to live our lives properly. The police have failed us. They're no help".

Ms Jones added: "I've already had three cars and a caravan torched - I don't want to be the next bonfire.

"I just think the police should do their job... if the police had done their job three years ago, I wouldn't be in this situation.

"I've ended up, and Zac's ended up, living as victims."

Image copyright Avon and Somerset police
Image caption The pair registered more than 50 complaints over four years

BBC Inside Out West discovered that in 2016, the then beat manager PC Jeanette Cadden wrote in the police log of reported incidents: "I believe that Ruth is carrying out the damage herself."

She judged that Ms Jones was "the aggressor" and not the victim.

Ms Cadden was dismissed from the force in 2017 for sharing racist posts on her Facebook page - unrelated to the Jones family's case.

She told the BBC she had dealt with Ms Jones's allegations in accordance with the force's hate crime guidance, her comments in the log were her view of the facts at the time and the log had been scrutinised by a higher-ranking officer.

Image caption Ch Insp Mark Runacres said the the force has made great strides since the Ebrahimi case

Ch Insp Runacres said he "wholeheartedly disagreed" with Mrs Cadden's comments recorded in the log.

He added: "What I can say is that having looked through the call logs of all of the incidents reported since that date, those sentiments are not reflected in the response from officers.

"We have been absolutely mindful of the vulnerability that [Ruth] is subjected to and I've been very clear in my expectations to my officers."

The last recorded complaint made to the police by Ms Jones was in May 2019.

He said the Jones family had been on a problem-solving plan to help manage the issues in partnership with the council but that had ended in August.

BBC Inside Out West will air on BBC One West at 19:30 GMT on Monday 9 March. It will be available on BBC iPlayer afterwards.

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