Daniel has been the victim of 4 hate crimes, but on each occasion it was Daniel who was arrested and police added to his abuse:
Hate crime 1: In the early hours of the morning of 18 October 2015, Daniel Smith, who had not turned up to meet his father as arranged, arrived home bruised and shaken. Daniel had been visiting his father for the weekend from the supported care facility in Exeter where he lives. Daniel had spent the previous afternoon sitting in the local park. Allegedly, Daniel had approached two teenage girls, one of whom had been taking pictures of him doing pull-ups on an exercise bar, to ask a couple of innocuous questions. One of the girls phoned her father claiming that Daniel had been taking photos of children in the park, following which the girl’s father and another man went to the park, “to sort him out for being weird”. After punching Daniel to the ground, Daniel ran to the local police station to report being assaulted.
But instead of safeguarding Daniel, the police handcuffed him and locked him up in a cell because they believed Daniel’s attacker’s story that it was he who had been assaulted by Daniel. This was in spite of the fact that Daniel’s face was bloodied and bruised and that his attacker’s only injury was to the fist that he had used to punch Daniel’s face. None of the alleged photos were found on Daniel’s phone but he had photographed his attacker. This shows that the park was empty, it being a cold day, yet Daniel was kept locked up for 9 hours then released and allowed to find his own way home.
Daniel told the police that he was autistic, showed them his autism alert card and that he wanted them to call his father, but they refused his request. Clearly confused by this double assault, Daniel says he felt like dying and sat in the cell holding his head and crying.
Hate Crime 2: While out with his family in a bar in Rushden, a man the family know to be a friend of his previous attacker, headbutted Daniel then grabbed him by the hair and pushed him up against a wall. Police eventually took details from Daniel’s father but then failed to contact him further in spite of promises to do so. There was a bar full of outraged witnesses and the bar owner saved CCTV evidence but again Northants police failed to arrest Daniel’s attacker, safeguard Daniel or investigate the incident further, in spite of an independent Disability Hate Crime Advocate becoming involved and escalating the family’s complaint.
The adjournment of Daniel’s Northants case on the 23rd Feb 2016 resulted in a deterioration of his mental health and increased anxiety.
Hate Crime 3: Shortly after returning to his home in Exeter he was again arrested following an incident at a local nightclub on the night of 27th February. On this occasion he was head-butted by a drunken young woman and then assaulted by an unlicensed doorman who slammed Daniel against a wall and swore in his face until he broke down and began sobbing as the result of the combined assaults.
When Devon & Cornwall police officers arrived at the scene, they ignored Daniel’s obvious distress and information that he was autistic and feeling suicidal, accepting the stories from the doorman and two drunken young women, that Daniel was responsible for the incident. In fact police later denied that Daniel told them he was autistic, even though it is clearly recorded that his solicitor stated that “Daniel has problems with understanding what you are saying, and you are fully aware of this”, and even more damning, a note later found on the custody record that, ‘Daniel didn’t understand what he was being offered by the officer with Court Diversion at the custody suite, so it wasn’t applied for him’
He was arrested and charged with assault then locked in a cell for 12 hours with no ‘appropriate adult’ (AA) called out in clear breach of PACE, Code C. When Daniel questioned why he was not being given an AA he was told that there were not any available, even though his mother was only ten minutes journey from the police station! Neither of his parents were contacted. When Daniel’s father later asked the police why no AA was called, he was referred to the police complaints process. As with the Northamptonshire complaint, it was a year before the complaint investigation commenced and key evidence, including CCTV footage, was no longer available. Medical evidence was also ignored by the police and the CPS.
Clearly, given Daniel’s mental state and that he had been in a cell for 12 hours prior to being interviewed, he was in no fit state to be interviewed whether he had an AA or not. By the time of the interview he simply wanted to get out of the police station and go home. He told the duty solicitor that he was autistic and that he did not understand what was happening. This raises serious questions about the fitness of duty solicitors to protect vulnerable autistic people like Daniel in custody.
The police had also noted from Daniel’s police record that he was on bail for two violent offences in Northampton, ignoring the fact that he had been acquitted of the original charges two months later. It is just this kind of selective reading of police records from which police and the CPS compound already erroneous accounts of events to further incriminate vulnerable people like Daniel.
Neither Daniel or his parents could face him having to go through the stress of another hearing, the solicitor was also pressurising Daniel to accept the charge, and so on May 27th 2016, he pleaded guilty at Exeter Magistrate to assault. Both Daniel’s parents have themselves been traumatised by the way their son has been treated. In spite of Daniel making it clear that he did not want to plead guilty, and breaking down in tears in the courtroom, the hearing was not adjourned. It took less than a minute, under duress from the judge, for Daniel to plead guilty in the dock and the judge then proceeded to admonish Daniel, telling him that he would “end up in prison at this rate”.
Following this incident, Daniel purchased and started using body cams out of fear of being attacked and his knowledge that police never believed him. Daniel was conned out of hundreds of pounds, his total savings, in obtaining various devices for his protection.
Mental health workers became concerned that Daniel was suffering from delusional thoughts that the police and CPS were controlling him and he believed they were on a crusade to have him locked up forever. Clinicians decided that Daniel was not psychotic yet the fact that his distress resulted in him soiling himself, projectile vomiting, loosing weight and expressing suicidal ideas, did little to relieve his family’s concerns. Daniel’s father talks about spending nights at his son’s bedside until he fell asleep trying to convince him that, ‘the Police were not after him, that the courts were not corrupt, and that men would never attack him again.’
Hate Crime 4: In January 2018 Daniel was again attacked in an Exeter pub by drunken youths. Again his attackers and a thuggish doorman were believed, and again it was Daniel who was arrested, handcuffed and put in the back of a police van. On this occasion, however, police decided not to charge Daniel after viewing CCTV evidence that showed Daniel was the victim of the attack. Police apologised to Daniel and said, “You haven’t been arrested mate, just go home”. It was only 3 months later that Daniel’s father was informed of the incident by police and 7 months later that he discovered Daniel had been arrested on this occasion also. Again, no appropriate adult involved.
Hate Crime 5: Daniel was attacked in Exeter on 16 September 2019 at a bus stop. He was kicked, stamped on and punched, which left him bruised, bloodied and with a dislocated shoulder (picture below).