Vellino v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (2001)

Areas of applicable law: Tort law – Defence of illegality.

Main arguments in this case: Should the police owe a duty of care to a person who is wanted for crimes; and if the police needs to make sure that the person does not get injured in the course of arrest?

The facts of the case: The claimant, Carlo Vellino, was on various occasions wanted by the police in relation to offences ranging from burglary, theft and violent crimes. The police had been to his apartment numerous times to arrest him and Mr Vellino had often evaded arrest by escaping from the window of his apartment. Given the height of the building from where he would escape police arrest, Though escaping so from such a height was a dangerous act but Mr Vellino had no hesitation to avoid police arrest this way. On the evening that he was to be arrested, he jumped down from his apartment window but was seriously hurt which resulted in brain damage and other bodily injuries which left him paralysed and defendant on others for his day to day life and activities. The claimant brought an action against the police for being responsible for his injuries.

His claim failed as the court held that there was no duty of care owed to him by the police. His injury had occurred when he was trying to evade a lawful arrest and hence was involved in an unlawful activity and therefore the defence of illegality applied.

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