Police have been criticised for seizing a teenager’s mobile phone for evidence – and then losing it.
Emma Gregson, 18, from Bispham, had gone to the police for help after receiving menacing messages from an ex-boyfriend.
In one he warned her: “String yourself up. I hope you die a slow death.”
On top of having to go through a court case the teenager’s troubles have now been compounded after her £435 iPhone 4 – which contained all her contact numbers and precious photographs of her new-born brother – went missing while in police custody.
Miss Gregson said: “I was receiving threats from an ex-boyfriend so I rang the police and they took a witness statement.
“They had to take my phone off me, but I thought it’d be fine and they would keep it safe.
“I kept ringing them up to find out what’s happened to my phone but I’ve been passed from pillar to post.
“I was told it had been signed off to be released but this week they’ve said they have lost it.
“I’d only had it a week when the police took it off me for evidence, it was brand new. It took me months to save up for it.”
The voicemails left on Miss Gregson’s phone were said to be “abusive and insulting”, a court was told.
Red-faced police told The Gazette they had now apologised to Miss Gregson and will make sure her phone is replaced.
But the teenager, who is studying a travel and tourism diploma at Blackpool and The Fylde College and worked for months at McDonald’s to save up for the phone, says she is heartbroken now sentimental photographs of her three-month-old brother Tyler and important phone numbers have been lost.
She added: “It was my 18th birthday on Sunday and I wanted my phone back for that. I can’t get in touch with anyone – no text or calls.
“I worked so hard to buy it, I can’t believe they have lost it.”
The phone was taken off Miss Gregson to be examined by police on November 11 and the court case was heard at Blackpool Magistrates Court on November 22.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “A search of our property office has been carried out in a bid to locate the mobile telephone but as yet we have been unable to find it.
“Every year we deal with thousands of items of property and it is very rare that we lose somebody’s belongings.
“We have apologised to the victim and will do our very best to make sure that her handset is replaced prior to the Christmas break.
“A senior officer will be looking into the matter to try and find out why this has happened and we will review our processes and make changes should changes be necessary.”
>> A 20-year-old man admitted sending abusive text messages and was fined £65 and ordered to pay £50 compensation by Blackpool magistrates.
The court was told he had been drinking heavily when he sent the messages.
Martin Hillson, defending said: “This was not a lengthy campaign of harassment.
“It took place in a two-hour period, but my client accepts what he wrote was abusive and insulting.”