On The Beat by Inspector Jim Tyner
Everyone loves a wedding; however I once had cause to gate-crash a wedding celebration in Spalding.
It was early 1993 and I had just booked on duty at 5pm on a cold Saturday evening when there was a report that a criminal damage had justtaken place.
The sergeant and I went to investigate. The bottom pane of glass in the door of the Wimpy restaurant in the Market Place had been smashed by a customer.
When I spoke to the manager he told me that a customer had deliberately kicked the door on the way out. He was able to give a description of a man in his late twenties, quite short and with a full beard.
The manager described the culprit’s clothes as black biker leathers with lots of zips and the man was wearing a distinctive top hat with a plume of feathers.
He was last seen walking towards the Hole in the Wall Passage.
Well, with a distinctive description like that, even a rookie cop like me shouldn’t have trouble finding the culprit.
In those days, the Hole in The Wall pub was known as a bikers pub, so that was going to be our first port of call, so I walked in the front door of the pub, as the sergeant covered the side exit.
At that time of the evening I was expecting one or two customers in there. Instead I walked straight in to a biker’s wedding party.
There were about 80 people in there at various stages of inebriation. Everyone had made an effort: leathers had been cleaned, boots had been polished and all exposed zips were sparkling like jewels. Their outfits were fantastic.
Now bikers weren’t always known for being supportive of their local constabulary so, feeling as vulnerable as a lost lamb in an abattoir, I made my way towards the bar, and there I saw Andy. Andy fitted the description to a tee.
He was stood by the bar, next to a woman who was resplendent in white leathers. The sound of rock music was deafening, but I managed to understand that Andy was the bridegroom. Could this get any worse?
I asked Andy to step outside as I needed to speak to him. As we walked towards the side door, there was general disgruntlement from many of the wedding guests and several started to block the door.
Andy waved them away, saying: “It’s OK, I’m just going outside to speak with this young copper.”
There was a reluctant parting of the waves, allowing Andy and I to step outside in to the chill of the Hole in the Wall passage, where the sergeant was waiting.
I asked Andy if he had been to the Wimpy and he confirmed that he had been there to collect a large order of burgers and fries for the wedding feast. He had been unhappy that mistakes had been made with the order and admitted shouting threats and swearing at the staff, but denied kicking out at the door.
I needed to secure evidence as soon as possible, including checking Andy’s boots for glass fragments.
This couldn’t be sorted in the middle of the street, so I explained to Andy that, even though it was his wedding day, I was going to arrest him, take him back to the police station, interview him and get him back to his wedding as quickly as possible.
This was crunch time. If Andy reacted badly, there would be pandemonium. There were two further cops on their way to us, but that wasn’t going to be much help against 80 drunken bikers. Thankfully, Andy shrugged his shoulders and said: “OK, let’s get it over with.” I breathed an internal sigh of relief.
Just at that moment, one of the revellers burst out from the pub, clutching a camera. This man had been seriously over-celebrating and was very drunk and very loud. Despite being three feet away from me, he shouted: “Oi, copper! Pretend like you’re arresting Andy! It’ll look funny in the album!”
Before I could say anything, there was a flash of camera bulb. Andy explained that he was nipping to the police station to sort something out and the man was to tell the others he would be back soon.
I was true to my word and by 7pm Andy was back at his party. The only difference was he now had a charge sheet and a date for a future court appearance.
I liked Andy. He was clearly annoyed at me interrupting his nuptial celebrations but his calm demeanour prevented his arrest from turning into serious disorder.
I wonder whether that photo made it in to the wedding album.