- Juan and Julie Gilly’s nightmare first began on August 23, 2012
- It was the start of a five-year vendetta waged by Staffordshire Police
- Staffordshire Police have already paid a six-figure sum to settle his civil action
It was a chilly winter’s night. Juan Gilly had picked up a takeaway curry and was driving back to his home. Frustratingly, he got stuck behind a police van crawling along at 15mph. At a junction it stopped. Mr Gilly waited ten seconds, then seeing the coast was clear, he edged past.
It was a big mistake. Moments later the van’s blue lights were flashing and a shocked Mr Gilly found that he was being chased.
He pulled over and was confronted by three burly officers, yelled at and handcuffed.
He didn’t fight back. A police body-cam shown in court would later reveal him insisting that he wanted to ‘come in peace’. But that didn’t stop one officer pepper-spraying him in the face, temporarily blinding him.
It would be shocking enough to discover that Mr Gilly was charged in December 2015 with causing the policemen ‘harassment, alarm or distress’ under the Public Order Act. His ordeal only ended last week when Newcastle-under-Lyme magistrates found him not guilty and it emerged that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was investigating the use of the pepper spray.
But what makes this story truly alarming is that the case was the culmination of what would appear to be a five-year vendetta waged by Staffordshire Police against Mr Gilly, an entirely innocent man.
Such was the determination of a force that the Gillys’ MP has described as ‘out of control’ to get its man, that it even turned on the wife who stood by him.
More astonishing still, Julie Gilly was a serving Staffordshire officer. And after presenting evidence to her superiors that put her husband’s innocence beyond doubt, she was subjected to what colleagues say was a campaign of intimidation that forced her to resign.
It was no coincidence in Juan and Julie’s minds that the pepper spray incident occurred just five months after Mr Gilly was cleared of a much more serious charge pinned on him by Staffordshire Police.
Mr Gilly had spent three years on bail facing the terrifying prospect of 18 years in jail after being falsely accused of being at the centre of a vicious street battle that he had absolutely nothing to do with.