THE police have been criticised for their handling of a case which saw a physiotherapist suffer two years of harassment.
Lisa Brown, who endured two years of intimidation at the hands of rogue builder Ziggy Sobolewski, has made a complaint to Hampshire Constabulary about its conduct.
Ms Brown employed Mr Sobolewski to carry out a £31,000 refurbishment to create a private rehabilitation clinic on South Street, Gosport. But when she refused to pay him the final £7,000 for his substandard work, the harassment began.
In May 2010, she was arrested at her Hill Head home by police officers at 8am over false claims she had hired a Kosovan hitman to kill local councillor Sean Woodward.
She was questioned, put in a cell, had her home searched, and also had her computer seized. She was later cleared.
Mr Sobolewski also trespassed on her property to rip out fixtures in April 2010, claiming he was entitled in lieu of payment – after police had given him permission.
But in a county court judgment, recorder David Blunt QC said: ‘The advice given to him by the police was wrong as a matter of law.’
Michael Turner of Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, who represented Ms Brown, said: ‘The police just did not want to know about my client’s complaints and were unwilling to take any action against Mr Sobolewski.
‘Despite the judge’s findings that his actions amounted to harassment, which is also a serious criminal offence, she was left completely unprotected by them and indeed they became part of the problem itself, treating the utterly absurd allegation of conspiracy to commit murder made by Mr Sobolewski seriously.
‘I have never understood why it was felt necessary to raid my client’s home at all, let alone in the way that this was done and there has been no plausible or acceptable explanation provided.’
Hampshire police refused to comment on Ms Brown’s arrest but a spokeswoman said: ‘Our professional standards department investigated Ms Brown’s complaint and concluded that the advice provided to the builder by police was appropriate in the circumstances.’
The court awarded Ms Brown £150,000 in damages and legal costs.