UNITED Co-operatives has obtained a civil injunction against two people who have subjected its staff and customers to a 10-year reign of terror and abuse.
Darren Boote and Joy McKay (pictured) have been banned from 23 stores within the city of Stoke-on-Trent after United Co-operatives won its case for an injunction against them. At a total cost of £ 25,000, it is the first time the society has taken such an action and it says that it will not hesitate to do so again.
Bill Edwards, United's security manager, said: "This is a landmark for us. We have served exclusion notices previously on these two people with no effect. It cost us around £ 25,000 to put this case together, but if individuals aim this kind of abuse at our staff, we will do it again.
"Our stand also shows other retailers across the region that there is another option. There is generally a reluctance to spend this sort of money, but we believe that the safety of our staff outweighs the costs involved."
At the hearing at Stoke-on-Trent County Court, it was explained how Boote and McKay had continued to shoplift and intimidate staff despite being banned from various stores in the area. Statements from employees of United Co-operatives were read out in court highlighting the abuse and violence used by the pair.
Circuit Judge Eades said: "I am satisfied both defendants have committed acts of harassment against the complainants and their employees." He granted a 12-month injunction against Boote and McKay, restraining them from:
? Assaulting, molesting, harassing, threatening, pestering or otherwise interfering with the claimant, its employees and any customers within the premises
? Making any communication to the claimant or its employees whether in writing or orally, whether by telephone or otherwise
? Entering or coming within 25 feet of the premises.
If either of the individuals breaks any of these conditions they can be arrested.
Joel Heap, Associate with Cobbetts Solicitors, acted for United Co-operatives. He said: "The defendants' conduct over ten years was simply unacceptable and the society had no choice but to take action. This injunction is a step forward for the society allowing it to protect its employees and customers alike."