Magistrates in Leicester, England, have thrown out a case of a teenager accused of throwing a snowball at a girl. The charge has been hanging over 15-year-old Arlo Conley, of Fleckney, Leicestershire, since he was arrested in February.
But on Friday, after the prosecution evidence was presented, magistrates decided there was no case to answer.
After the hearing, his mother Julie said she was furious at the treatment of her son, who had denied the allegation of assault by beating.
Julie Conley, 48, of Fleckney, said: “The past six months have been a nightmare for the family and Arlo in particular, with this ridiculous prosecution hanging over him. We were so relieved when the magistrates said there was no case to answer but we are angry it ever came to this.”
Ms Conley, with Arlo’s approval, agreed to waive the anonymity accorded to minors in most criminal cases.
She said: “The whole thing has been totally stupid. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) should have never sanctioned this prosecution.”
Arlo was arrested on February 5, after a teenage girl complained he had thrown a snowball at her the previous night at a recreation area in Fleckney. Officers called at the family home at 7.30am to arrest Arlo, who was taken to Euston Street police station, in Leicester.
“He’s only a young boy and was frightened,” said Ms Conley. “He was kept in a cell all day and all night. The first I knew of the allegation against him was in court the next day. When they read out the charge of assault by beating my jaw dropped.
“I thought he must have hit someone. But when they said it was all about a snowball I just couldn’t believe it.”
The court imposed conditions on Arlo’s bail, including a 7pm to 7am curfew. The family attended court on five occasions, including a trial at Loughborough, in March, when the case was adjourned.
Ms Conley said: “I am very angry and want an apology from the CPS. God only knows how much this prosecution has cost the taxpayer. We’ve been told it’s many thousands of pounds. What a waste of money. My son has been treated like a criminal and for what? A snowball that may or may not have been thrown, may or may not have hit a person and in any case was not thrown by Arlo.”
At Friday’s hearing, the teenage complainant and two other witnesses gave evidence. None of them could say with 100 per cent certainty that Arlo, who had been having a snowball fight with a friend, had targeted the girl.
A CPS spokesman said after the hearing: “When this was charged, there was clear evidence the complainant had been deliberately targeted and that this was more than just a youthful snowball fight. The evidence, including two witness statements, pointed to the fact the defendant had made and thrown the snowball and made comments of a hostile nature afterwards. This, coupled with the fact that the complainant was recovering from a serious eye injury, meant a court should be asked to judge the case. If, however, during a hearing, evidence by witnesses appears to fluctuate from the statements provided, a court can determine there is no case to answer .”