Published: 12:49, 13 June 2019
| Updated: 16:06, 17 June 2019
Controversial evidence from a Kent Police officer has helped clear a teenager accused of breaching a criminal behaviour order.
Blessed Banda, 19, was said to have been spotted walking with a friend who he had been banned from hanging around with in October 2018.
However, during a trial at Maidstone Magistrate's Court PC Ash Bates said she was convinced Mr Banda and his friend Gbenga Olajide were walking along Loose Road in Maidstone because they were black.
She said she had dealt with the pair on a number of occasions but also claimed due to the low number of black people in the county town, she believed it was Mr Banda, of Pickering Street, Loose, and Mr Olajide.
In her evidence PC Bates also likened the duo to Laurel and Hardy.
She told the bench she had been riding a motor scooter while heading home at around 6pm on October 5, 2018, and spotted a group of three men walking towards her.
PC Bates said: "They were walking with one another laughing and seemed to be chatting.
"I have had many interactions with the defendant for 18 months. I knew he was the subject of a criminal behaviour order and I reported it the next morning.
"The three lads in question, one was white and the other two lads were black. Maidstone is predominantly white.
"I'm 100% certain it was Blessed Banda and Gbenga Olajide together. It is a bit like Laurel and Hardy. One is rather large and the other is thin."
Jag Takk, defending Mr Banda, submitted to the court halfway through the trial that the evidence given by PC Bates was vague and there should be no case to answer.
He said: "We can check how many black or coloured people there are. There aren't that many but it doesn't mean if she sees two black men it is Blessed Banda and Gbenga Olajide."
Mr Banda said he stopped seeing Mr Olajide early last year when their college courses finished.
He told magistrates he had lots of black friends and family members and that it would have been one of those he had been seen out with on the day in question.
Mr Banda was acquitted of the charge.
He was in court last year and found guilty of obstructing police and ignoring an order to leave the Shepway housing estate after a disturbance involving fireworks.
After this case a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) was issued as police said Banda was involved in the MS15 gang suspected of causing trouble across Maidstone.