Woman claims she attempted suicide after Met Police raided her home
3:40pm Friday 16th October 2009
A JUDGE has spoken out in support of a woman who claims she tried to commit suicide after being treated badly by police.
Kim Woodyear-Byers, 53, had her Shoebury home raided by Metropolitan Police officers as part of a fraud investigation.
She has been arrested on suspicion of fraud and bailed, but her former solicitor and friend, deputy district judge Adrian Livesley said the police had been too “aggressive” in the way they pursued the investigation.
Mr Livesley, chairman of law firm Birkett Long, said: “I share the concern at the callous way the police just casually destroyed Mrs Woodyear-Byers’ business and life. They could have carried out any investigation they wanted without that and arrogantly took on the powers of judge and executioner.”
Mrs Woodyear-Byers was arrested at Harrods, in Knightsbridge, London, on May 1 on suspicion of fraud.
She was taken to Chelsea police station, where she claims she was interviewed without legal representation, despite telling them she was on anti-depressants and had been suicidal in the past.
Police later raided her home, seizing a haul of jewellery and files belonging to her jointly owned company, Stefano Pearls, which has since gone into liquidation because of a lack of stock.
She also claims they took her birth certificate, engagement ring, eternity ring, and other personal effects.
She further alleges the Metropolitan Police have never provided her with a list of all the property they have seized.
A formal complaint has now been made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which it has passed to the Metropolitan Police. It outlines 25 possible breaches of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
Mrs Woodyear-Byers was already at a low point as her step-daughter had died earlier that year, following on from the deaths of her husband, mother and father. She attempted to commit suicide that bank holiday Monday, but failed.
She said she wanted to speak out now to help other people with mental health issues.
She said: “The most important thing is the mental health issue. I was suicidal before, but never did it. But this made me do it.”
Lynn Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police, said three people had been arrested on suspicion of fraud and bailed until the end of November.
She added: “The Metropolitan Police Service has received a complaint in respect of one of the women who was arrested, which is with the Metropolitan Police Service’s department of professional standards.
“This matter will be investigated as appropriate at the conclusion of criminal proceedings.”