Thursday, September 18, 2008

'The police have put me through hell'

A Hatfield man, recently found not guilty of drug dealing by a jury, has told of the trauma he and his family endured following his arrest.

Robert Lampey, 35, who was brought up in the town and lives with his parents in Elmsford Road, says he was befriended early last year in The Cat and Fiddle pub in Roe Green Lane by a man he knows only as Andy.

But ‘Andy’ was an undercover police officer who eventually asked Mr Lampey - who insists he has never touched illegal drugs - for cocaine.

Mr Lampey said: "He told me he was living with his sister in Hatfield because he had to get away from London for a bit.

"He seemed to be a nice bloke and even asked me to take him and his kids to some fishing lakes I know."

In October last year police arrived at his home, mounted a fruitless search and charged him with conspiracy to supply class A drugs - the start of a year-long nightmare.

The self-employed carpet cleaner told the Review: "I have never been in trouble at all before - not even a speeding ticket. It has been absolute hell for my mum and dad.

"My mum had friends coming up to her in the supermarket saying: 'Hasn't your son been done for selling drugs?'

"I thought I was looking at three or four years in prison."

The evidence against him, presented in a trial at St Albans Crown Court earlier this month, included a video film purporting to show him selling cocaine to "Andy" on the steps of The Cat and Fiddle pub.

According to Mr Lampey, another person was seen with the police officer, but he was at least ten feet away and not involved in any way. The jury obviously agreed as he was found not guilty.

He said: "I was just chatting to some people and having a cigarette outside the pub."

He was also accused of giving a plastic bag with cocaine to "Andy" on another occasion inside the pub.

He said: "When it got to court, they had to admit there was no DNA or fingerprints on the bag, or anything to connect it to me and the video film didn't show anything at all.

"The trial was a real strain. I couldn't stand the thought of prison.

"But thankfully the jury realised I was innocent.

"I have never been involved with drugs or crime at all and the police have put me through hell."

To celebrate the end of his ordeal and claim some much-needed relaxation he is off for a week in Spain next week.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has refused to comment on the case .

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