A High Wycombe woman who was left feeling “suicidal and depressed” after she was falsely imprisoned by the police has won thousands after a legal battle against the force.

Sunita Obhrai, aged 60, took Thames Valley Police to court and won £2,200 in damages after a judge ruled she had been falsely imprisoned when she was arrested and held in custody for 17 hours.

In 2015, Ms Obhrai was living in High Wycombe with her friend Ms Johnson when one day she came home and her roommate told her the police had been trying to get hold of her.

Ms Obhrai called the police station and arranged to go in for an interview the following day, but a few hours later the same officer she spoke to on the phone “barged in” to her house and arrested her.

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Ms Obhrai said: “I phoned and arranged the interview and then didn’t think about it, until there was a knock at the door.

“There was the same police officer. She barged into the house and said she’s come to arrest me.”

Ms Obhrai discovered that she had been accused on suspicion of assaulting Ms Johnson’s partner, Mr Mason. Mr Mason had not contacted the police, and later told officers that no assault had taken place.

Ms Obhrai was taken into police custody and was kept in a cell for 17 hours. Her bail conditions prevented her from contacting her friend and roommate Ms Johnson – meaning she was effectively homeless.

Ms Obhrai was never charged with assaulting Mr Mason, but was later convicted of a public order offence.

After Ms Obhrai was forced to move out, Ms Johnson moved to a care home, and she tragically passed away during the pandemic after catching Covid-19.

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In the years since her arrest, Ms Obhrai has struggled to cope mentally with the ordeal.

She said: “I have been devastated, I have PTSD and I’m suicidal and depressed.

“It has turned my life upside down, all I do is think about it going over and over in my head.”

In May, Ms Obhrai took legal action against Thames Valley Police over her ordeal – taking the force to court and winning £2,200 in damages.

The judge at Oxford County Court ruled that unlawful imprisonment and unlawful trespass took place, and only would have been appropriate if Ms Obhrai had not shown up to her interview at the police station.

The judge also ruled that Thames Valley Police must pay Ms Obhrai’s legal costs – which are estimated to be around £50,000.

Throughout proceedings, Ms Obhrai was represented by Matthew McConville of Irvings Law, a firm that specialises in action against police departments.

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He said: “All our clients have the right to expect integrity in the police service and should have confidence in police officers to act in a professional manner.

“Unfortunately, there has been a definite shortfall in the service that Ms Obhrai has received in this incident and there are grave concerns over how Thames Valley Police dealt with it.

“Although this should never have occurred in the first place, we welcome the trial Judge’s decision and hope that Ms Obhrai can now try and move on with her life.

“We at Irvings Law will always continue to represent those across the country who have been failed by the police, so if you have been affected by any police misconduct, please contact us via our website and we may be able to help you too".

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “On 16 February 2015, a member of public reported to the police that an assault had taken place in a vehicle in High Wycombe.  The member of the public reported that the passenger, a woman, hit the driver, a man in is eighties.

“Thames Valley Police thoroughly investigated the report, and Sunita Obhrai became a suspect as part of that investigation.

“Sunita Obhrai, now aged 60, was later convicted of a public order offence in relation to the incident.

“Subsequently, a civil claim was brought by Sunita Obhrai against the force.

“Sunita Obhrai alleged that she was wrongfully arrested in relation to the incident, one of the reasons being that she had already arranged with the officer in the case to participate in a voluntary interview.

“The officer in the case disputed Sunita Obhrai’s claim that a voluntary interview had been arranged at the time she was arrested, however the judge found in favour of the claimant and ordered the force to pay damages.”