Wales

South Wales Police's £4,000 payout to wrongful arrest student

Uyioghosa Emmanuel Aigbe
Image caption Uyioghosa Emmanuel Aigbe was looking for a taxi when police arrested him

A man wrongfully arrested for burglary and held in a "chokehold" by police officers has been awarded £4,000 in damages from South Wales Police.

Uyioghosa Emmanuel Aigbe had only arrived in Wales two weeks before he was arrested in Cardiff city centre last September following a night out.

The University of South Wales student spent five hours in custody before he was released.

South Wales Police said it had made a mistake arresting Mr Aigbe.

Mr Aigbe, who was living in Newport and studying in Treforest at the time, said in a statement released by his solicitors Collingbourne Hennah that he had been trying to get a taxi when he was arrested.

He had been looking for a toilet to use and had briefly entered a building foyer to find one but had left within a minute after realising there were not public toilets available.

He had been carrying a large quantity of cash as he was looking to put down a deposit on an apartment.

Image caption South Wales Police said it had been called to reports of a burglary, which later turned out not to have happened

Mr Aigbe said while talking to a taxi driver he was grabbed from behind and "intensely choked" before being forced to the floor with a number of bodies on top of him striking blows to parts of his body.

He described being put in a choke hold like an "MMA [mixed martial arts] hold" after he wriggled to try to breathe. It was only when he was handcuffed he realised it was police officers who were holding him.

Mr Agibe spent five hours in a custody cell while investigations into a suspected burglary were carried out. He was later released under investigation before the case was dropped.

He said he was in considerable pain while in custody, and when he was interviewed with a solicitor present, after seeing CCTV footage, the solicitor advised him to make a complaint.

'Not a nice way to be treated'

Mr Agibe had to go to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport due to the pain in his shoulder following the incident where he was told he had suffered soft tissue damage.

He said: "It was not a nice way to be treated coming into the UK."

He said he did not know if the incident was racially motivated, but it had affected his trust in the police.

"You want to believe they are doing the job, and, in some way, you stick up for them but actually they totally undermine the professionalism of the job," he said.

He said he did wonder if he had had different skin colour if the officers would have tried other tactics "like communication" with him more.

South Wales Police said in a statement: "Officers responded to reports of a burglary in Cardiff city centre and arrested a man who had been seen on CCTV entering the building.

"It was later confirmed that no burglary had taken place and the man was released from police custody.

"We acknowledge that a mistake was made in arresting this man for burglary and a full debrief of the incident to identify any opportunities for learning by South Wales Police is taking place and we remain absolutely committed to taking those forward."

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