July 9, 2010

Offbeat

Woman arrested over refusal to return cricket ball

Liam Brickhill

A 47-year-old mother from North Baddesley, Hampshire, was arrested after refusing to return a cricket ball which her neighbours’ children had hit into her yard, allegedly damaging her car reports the Telegraph.

A visit from the children’s father made no difference to Loretta Cole, who said she was trying to teach the children a lesson, and she was then visited on three occasions by police who tried to persuade her to return the ball. A Hampshire police spokeswoman said that on each occasion Mrs Cole was ''obstructive'' and refused.

''She was made aware that the incident would have to be treated as theft if she continued to keep the ball but that it would be much better for all involved if it could be dealt with by way of a common sense approach,” said the spokeswoman.

“After continuing to refuse to return the ball the suspect was arrested and bailed to attend Lyndhurst police station on July 2. The ball was seized by police as evidence. Mrs Cole was given the opportunity to return the ball a number of times and if this had happened no further action would have been taken. However she left the officers attending with no alternative choice but to take action.”

Mrs. Cole was detained for five hours while she was questioned, had her photograph, DNA swab and fingerprints taken.

''I asked the police if I give the ball back, could I be given a reassurance that they speak to the parents. I wasn't given an assurance and it was left at that,” said Cole.

It was unclear when, if ever, the ball might be returned to the children.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

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