Muslim cleared of being drunk during Ramadan

A kebab shop customer arrested in a row over his takeaway has been cleared of being drunk after telling a judge he is a teetotal Muslim who was observing Ramadan.

Libyan-born Khaled el-Melyan was pushed across the road by police, seized and handcuffed after he complained about his order of chicken kebab and chips. He was cleared on appeal after Exeter Crown Court was shown CCTV in which he showed little sign of being drunk.

The footage from outside the Golden Horn takeaway in Fore Street, Exeter, showed he had moved a couple of paces away from the police and was talking on his mobile phone when he was arrested. It also showed him waiting calmly to be taken away after being handcuffed.

El-Melyan told Recorder Paul Grumbar he had not been drinking at all because he is a Muslim and the incident happened last year during Ramadan.

Police said he swore at them when they went to pacify him during an early hours argument with staff at the shop.

El-Melyan, aged 40, of Pinhoe Road, Exeter, was convicted of being drunk and disorderly by magistrates at Exeter but was cleared on appeal.

Recorder Mr Grumbar ruled there was insufficient evidence of drunkenness to sustain the allegation.

Mr Alex Allsop, prosecuting, said the incident happened at 3.40am on August 14 last year when officers noticed el-Melyan arguing with staff after being thrown out of the Golden Horn in Fore Street, Exeter.

Pc Ruth Fishleigh said he was drunk and being abusive and was arrested for refusing to leave the area. She said: "I tried to establish what the problem was but he said to me 'are you stupid'."

Pc Christopher Hogg added: "He was swearing and being very aggressive. He was calling me a bully and asked if I was enjoying it."

El-Melyan told the court he had not been drinking and was upset at a mix-up in his order at the take away. He said he was a Muslim and fasting from dawn until dusk to comply with the rules of Ramadan. His religious observance also precluded him from drinking alcohol, particularly during the month of fasting.