Page last updated at 19:05 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 20:05 UK

Failed banana case cost 20,000

Bananas
Prosecutors said bringing the case was in the public interest

Prosecutors say they were justified in spending an estimated £20,000 on the crown court trial of a man who was acquitted of stealing a 25p banana.

James Gallagher allegedly stole the fruit from an Italian restaurant in Birmingham's Bullring Shopping Centre.

He chose to be tried by a jury and was cleared this week of burglary and theft at Birmingham Crown Court.

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said "it is not the cost of the item that determines" a prosecution.

In a statement, Martin Lindop, district crown prosecutor for Birmingham, said the decision is based on whether there is "sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest".


In this case, we felt that there was sufficient evidence and it was in the public interest for the prosecution to proceed

Martin Lindop, district crown prosecutor for Birmingham

"We recommended this matter was suitable to be dealt with in the magistrates' court.

"However, Mr James Gallagher elected trial by jury, as is his right, so the case was heard in the Crown Court.

"It is not the cost of the item that determines whether we proceed with a prosecution, but whether there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest.

"In this case, we felt that there was sufficient evidence and it was in the public interest for the prosecution to proceed."

Mr Gallagher, 23, from Linwood Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, said after the verdict he was relieved and had chosen a Crown Court trial because he expected magistrates would have found him guilty.



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