Van Hoogstraten acquitted after suggesting a Brighton police officer was a ‘poofter’
The footage was caught on the police officer’s body cam
A notorious property tycoon was found not guilty after accusations of calling a police offer a ‘poofter’.
The Daily Mail explored von Hessen’s history, stating: “one of his business partners Mohammed Raja was killed by two thugs Mr von Hessen had hired. He was convicted of manslaughter in 2002 and sentenced to ten years.”
However, he only spent a year behind bars as he was acquitted and freed at a retrial.
Nicholas von Hessen, formerly named Nicholas van Hoogstraten, admitted he made the comment after his son’s arrest following a row over clamping at a car park owned by von Hessen last August.
During his testimony, the businessman said his exact words were: “maybe he’s a poofter as well”, but denied that the term was “in any way offensive”.
While describing body cam footage of the arrest, prosecutor Melanie Wotton said: “No other swear words were used but in my submission no other swear words have to be used. It is (a) derogatory and abusive term.”
PC James Breed gave evidence and told the court the comment was “undermining” and “something you should not have to hear.”
He also accused von Hessen of being aggressive.
Defence solicitor Andrew Foreman proceeded to ask PC Breeds why he hadn’t arrested von Hessen immediately if he felt offended.
PC Breeds was also accused of exaggeration.
Brighton magistrates acquitted him of behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress, with magistrate Barbara Dart claiming the comment was “said quietly and directed towards his son. Mr von Hessen was not confrontational.”
She recognised the word is “unpleasant and rude”, but said it did not pass the criminal standard in this case.
Mr von Hessen called the proceedings ‘laughable, a complete waste of public money and a disgrace.’
Outside court, he stated: “I’m pleased to see that there’s still a semblance of British justice. It shouldn’t have got off the ground in the first place.”