Trial of Phones 4U Hero Collapses

On 2 October 2012, Phones 4U in Putney was robbed by two men dressed in burqas and armed with knives. Approximately lb40,000.00 of stock was stolen.

Amin Dobani was a customer in the store when the robbery took place. Mr Dobani noticed that there was something unusual about the two robbers due to the size of their trainers which gave away their gender, and voiced his concerns to a member of staff.

Mr Dobani and staff members were locked in the store room as the robbers escaped, using Mr Dobani's mobile phone to call for a taxi. Mr Dobani freed the two members of staff which allowed the manager to call the police moments after the robbers left. Mr Dobani then provided the police with a detailed witness statement. His heroism started a two-year investigation which lead to the arrest of six suspects.

However, Mr Dobani became a suspect himself because his phone was used by the robbers to call for a taxi and because he associated with salesmen at various Phones 4U branches across London. Mr Dobani's business was dealing in discounted mobile phones, so his association with Phones 4U salespeople was entirely plausible. But the police and the Crown Prosecution Service decided he was part of a conspiracy to rob and he was arrested.

Liam Gregory of Saunders Law represented Mr Dobani immediately after his arrest. Mr Gregory also represented a second suspect, who was not charged as a result of submissions made by Mr Gregory at the Police Station.

At court the following day, Mr Gregory secured bail for Mr Dobani, in part by highlighting the inconsistencies in the Crown Prosecution Service's account. Mr Gregory's representations also assisted the co-accused in securing bail, despite the gravity of the alleged offence.

Mr Gregory instructed Ravi Dogra as defence counsel at the trial, who made a submission of no case to answer before the close of the prosecution's case. The trial judge agreed and directed the jury to acquit Mr Dobani. A member of Phones 4U staff was also acquitted following a similar submission made on his behalf.

The case could not have been won so convincingly without the hard work of Liam Gregory and Ravi Dogra in forensically identifying the weaknesses in the prosecution case and then exploiting them mercilessly.

This trial was a timely example of the importance of a properly funded legal aid system in a civilised society, allowing for expert representation by an experienced solicitor and Crown Court advocate, without which a miscarriage of justice may well have occurred.

Liam Gregory is a Solicitor in the Crime department


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