Police helicopter hunts schoolboy who accidentally smashed window


A schoolboy faces a lifelong criminal record after a police helicopter and riot van were scrambled to hunt him down – when he accidentally kicked a football at a greenhouse.

Police helicopter hunts schoolboy who accidentally smashed windows

Tom Clarke, 15, was horrified when he miss-kicked the ball and it looped over a garden fence and smashed a greenhouse window pane.

Just 30 minutes later a police helicopter was spotted hovering above the house using thermal imaging cameras to search for him.

Two patrol cars and a riot van were also dispatched to search nearby gardens in Chalgrove, Oxon., on foot.

A pair of uniformed officers eventually tracked Tom down and he apologised to the greenhouse owner.

But days later Thames Valley Police sent a letter to Tom’s dad Darrin telling him his youngster had ”accepted responsibility for criminal damage”.

Police said the incident was not a conviction but would be ”recorded for future reference” and could count against him by future employers carrying out CRB checks.

Tom may now be considered unsuitable for jobs involving children and young people when he applies for work in the future.

The letter also warned Tom he could face an ASBO if his ”behaviour does not improve”.

Yesterday Tom’s furious dad, bus driver Darrin, 42, branded the police reaction ”extremely heavy-handed”.

He said: ”Tom is a good lad, he’s never been in trouble with the police or at school and he works hard.

”Now he’s been told his future work life is at risk because of a stupid accident playing football. It’s extremely heavy-handed.

”The police helicopter was about 20ft above the ground and I saw a riot van circling the area along with two patrol cars.

”It was like something out of the Keystone Cops.”

Tom was playing football with his cousin in the back garden of the Crown pub in Chalgrove on May 8 when he miss-kicked the ball.

At 5.40pm the owner of the greenhouse, Bobby Cellar, 67, called police and officers logged the complaint as ”criminal damage”.

At 6.10pm police chiefs directed the force helicopter to the scene while another two patrol cars joined the search on the ground.

A riot van was also dispatched to the village to deal with the incident.

Aston Villa fan Tom said: ”My cousin passed me the ball and I stuck my foot out, the ball spun off my ankle.

Police helicopter hunts schoolboy who accidentally smashed windows

”The ball flew over the fence and hit the greenhouse.

”I was really shocked and didn’t know what to do so walked into the pub to watch the football on TV.

”A few minutes later two police officers walked into the pub and got me by the arm and led me out the pub.

”They told me they ‘wanted a word’ with me and said I’d been accused of criminal damage.

”I apologised and my dad offered to pay for the damage.

”I’m gutted it’s going to be on my record, I had thought about being a teacher when I’m older but that might not happen now.”

Staff and customers at the pub branded the police response ”ridiculous”.

Manager Emma Arnold said: ”Since when did a youngster accidentally kicking a ball into a greenhouse become criminal damage? It is ridiculous.”

Villager Doug Coles, 65, added: ”It was one of the silliest things I have ever seen.

”The ball clipped his foot, looped over the fence and hit the greenhouse.

”He couldn’t do that if he tried. Accidents happen in life.”

Thames Valley Police defended the use of the helicopter, saying it was in the area at the time.

Spokeswoman Rebecca Webber said: ”Thames Valley Police would not deploy the force helicopter for low level crimes such as criminal damage.

”However if the helicopter is already airborne and in the area they may be asked to assist by officers on the ground, as happened in this case.”

But Mrs Cellar, 67, said she was happy to see ”justice done”.

She said: ”I’ve had enough. Someone could have been in the greenhouse at the time and got hurt.

”In my mind it’s criminal damage and that’s the law, I just wanted to see justice done.”


  1. ”In my mind it’s criminal damage and that’s the law, I just wanted to see justice done.”

    In my mind you’re a joyless asshole.

    • Compare the UK with North America…I’m staying here.
      This was heavy handed nanny state absurd.
      Kids will be kids, and he was obviously not a teen bent on destruction.
      My god, his dad even offered to pay restitution, why must the state get involved at tax payer’s expense (a riot van and a helicopter have nothing better to do ??)

      Charles in Canada.

  2. Shame.  You Brits got it bad.  For there to be Criminal Damage here in the U.S. there has to be criminal intent.  Thought you guys were civilized.

  3. Good, it’s about these kids get punished for acting like thugs. I hope kicking the ball was worth ruining his life. He will never become a teach and never find a decent job when he gets older. I hope this is a good lesson for all those other thugs out there. Go study or do something else productive with your time.

  4. Ogre1 but if he was prosected in the Police States of America here is proberbly looking at 40 years i prison. I Have never thought America was civilized.

  5. Dear Darrin,

    You live in a Nanny-Police State that cares more for the personal feelings of foreigners and non-citizens than they do for your inalienable rights. As you are working class (commoner) and not royalty or rich, you should be glad we let you still have custody of your little jack-a-nape. One more word out of you and we’ll send the princox to the county re-education camp and put your swag-bellied bum into the Chokey!


    Your Local Council

    PS: If you still want sensible government over your own personal life, you might try the United States. But hurry! Heavy-handed over-reaching is fast becoming the norm there as well and, in some States (California and New York for example), it is already institutionalized. I’d head Straight to Montana, Wyoming or the Dakotas if I were you.

    • My (American) opinion:

      “If you still want sensible government over your own personal life, you might try the United States”

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA stop, you’re killing me!

      “I’d head Straight to Montana, Wyoming or the Dakotas if I were you”

      Not until you’re sure you have no trace of an accent left, unless you wanna be shot in some stupid, misguided attempt to relive the glory of their minute men ancestors in the Revolutionary War… people out that way are crazy rednecks that shoot first and ask qu– well, actually, they don’t ask questions at all.

      In summary… I’d try Canada first. At least they’re polite.

  6. I was hoping to read that the helicopter hovered too low and blew the entire green house away.

    Now THAT would have been an interesting read.

  7. I can almost hear the benny Hill theme playing as the cops are running around looking for this kid.  What a joke.

  8. Not true sir.. Only 5 year olds that draw stick figures with anything resembling a firearm get arrested in the States…

  9. they used thermal imaging cameras to search for him and found him in a pub? that’s some camera! the kid’s lucky they didn’t take him out with a drone strike.  i hope the old bag’s greenhouse collapses for her being such a snot. the Brits have their security bass-ackwards. they also banned Michael Savage, the radio talk show host, from coming to England. he’s on the list with terrorists and murderers and they won’t remove him. they say he’ll incite violence – lol! meanwhile they coddle muslims who speak of overthrowing the government and installing sharia law.

  10. What’s worse than the embarrassing overreaction of the police is the greenhouse owner’s condemnation of the poor kid. I’d recommend the family move to Texas. Quickly though, America is rapidly turning into an Orwellian nightmare.

    • Texas?! Dear lord, that’s the worst state in the country (though Arizona is catching up quickly)! Why don’t you just suggest he shove a railroad spike through his eye? It’d be a far less irritating experience than dealing with Texans, I assure you.

  11. So let me get this straight: In the UK, squatters can move into your house when you’re out and you can’t do anything to get them out. People can harass you to the point of suicide and nobody can make them stop. But accidentally break a window and you’re scum for life. And this is justice. Maybe someone needs to introduce the greenhouse owner to a few travelers or something.

  12. I am rather surprised that your code allows the use of non-tempered glass in such a construct.  That stuff can be fatal.

  13. Although I agree he shouldn’t have a criminal record from this, I will say that constantly having kids kicking footballs over your fence can make your life a misery. If this has been happening in this case here for sometime to this Lady then I can fully understand her anger. Remember there are always two sides to every story.


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