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I'm plugging away with legal action; THEFT-ACCUSED OAP'S BATTLE.

Byline: By LIZ WALKER

A GRANDAD wrongly arrested for stealing a sink plug is to take his battle for justice to the courts.

Pensioner Thomas Radcliffe was left traumatised after he was marched out of B&Q in handcuffs when staff accused him of shoplifting a plug worth just a couple of pounds.

Outraged at his treatment, the 72-year-old retired Shell aviation inspector launched legal action.

Now, almost a year since the debacle, he has been offered an out-of-court settlement by the DIY giant after it admitted a mistake had been made.

But he has slammed the offer as an "insult" and is now set to take his case to the courts.

He said: "Sometimes I just wish this would all be over.

"But then when I remember what they put me through, it makes me determined to carry on.

"It was terrible the way they walked me out of the shop and put me in a police car. People were staring at me like a criminal but I hadn't done anything wrong.

"I have a heart condition and the shock and stress of it all could have killed me.

"All I ever wanted was a proper apology but it was only after the story went in the paper that they sent me a bunch of flowers and a voucher.

"Now they have offered an out-of-court settlement but it was an insult. It's not about the money, it's about them taking it seriously and making sure it doesn't happen to someone else."

Trouble started for Mr Radcliffe when he decided to pop down to B&Q to buy a new plug for his bath. He took along with him another plug to make sure he got one the right size. But he found B&Q didn't stock them and so paid for other items he had picked up.

As he left he was accosted by two security guards who accused him of stealing the plug, worth pounds 2.25, and marched him to a back-room where he was held until the police arrived.

He was then handcuffed, marched through the busy store and taken to a police station, where police took his mugshot, fingerprints and DNA samples.

He said: "I hadn't been that scared since I served with the Army in Suez.

"Some of my neighbours saw me being marched out in handcuffs. I have never felt so ashamed in my life. "

Mr Radcliffe, who lives in Camberley Road, Howdon, with wife Sylvia, was later driven back to the store where he had left his car.

Bosses failed to apologise for their mistake until they were contacted by the Chronicle and, following a full investigation, Mr Radcliffe received a letter of formal apology, a bunch of flowers and a B&Q gift card.

A spokeswoman for B&Q said: "I can confirm that the matter is in the hands of our solicitors and while this is the case I feel it would be inappropriate to comment at this time."

CAPTION(S):

DISPUTE: Mr Radcliffe was accused of stealing a plug from B&Q. He's rejected an out-of-court settlement; ORDEAL: Mr Radcliffe was put into handcuffs at the store
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 7, 2009
Words:528
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