POLICE have been left red-faced after breaking down the door of the wrong home during an early-morning raid – leaving a handwritten note to apologise.
The botched operation, which took place at 7.30am on Wednesday, saw eight officers from the North East of England and Edinburgh storm a flat in Pennywell Road, in the Scottish capital, after the family there left for work.
But after drilling a hole in the front door to remove the lock and force entry into the home, it quickly became apparent that they had mixed up names and targeted the wrong person.
Incredibly, it is the second time confused officers have wrongly linked the family to a serious assault in the North East of England.
Father-of-two Alistair McPhail said his son had been questioned by Police Scotland back in August in relation to the offence, but had been cleared after only 25 minutes when officers became convinced the 21-year-old insurance worker was innocent.
Mr McPhail, 52, said: “It’s like the Keystone Cops. They were apparently there for four hours trying to gain entry.
“It’s ridiculous that they have time to do this. I told them, ‘Next time you fancy a jolly in Edinburgh go and see the Castle and leave my flat alone’.
“Is this how they do policing now?
“I’m not going to let this lie. I’m going to have to make a complaint. My son is going to have to because he has his career to worry about.
“I’m really sorry for the person who was assaulted, but that doesn’t justify them coming up and doing this.
“All I want is my door back to how it was – it’s all scratched and battered.
“I just want people to realise that you can be completely law abiding and go about your life, but there’s nothing to stop the police coming in your house anyway.”
After the unsuccessful operation, embarrassed officers left a handwritten note in the McPhails’ living room asking them to “please accept our sincere apologies for this inconvenience”.
The letter also listed telephone numbers to contact if the family wished to make a claim for the damage inflicted on their door.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “The officers acted upon the information that was available to them at the time. It wasn’t made apparent until today that the person at the address was unconnected to the investigation.
“Police officers from the Edinburgh area attended the address to support Cleveland officers who were carrying out the warrant.”