A disputed confession used as evidence against a squatter has been ruled inadmissible after police “failures”.

Dirk Duputell, 30, is appealing to overturn his conviction after becoming the first person in Sussex to be found guilty under new squatting laws.

Duputell, of Gladstone Place, Brighton, was convicted, at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on May 24, of living in a residential building as a trespasser.

He was one of three men found glued together in the loft of the property in London Road, Brighton, on September 3 last year – two days after newanti-squatting legislation was introduced.


Before police raided the property Duputell spoke to officers and allegedly admitted to Sergeant Robert Lewis he lived at the building.

But the appeal hearing at Hove Trial Centre yesterday heard this was disputed.

Judge Paul Tain said the “confession”, which police did not make a note of but used in evidence, should be excluded under section 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

It was argued the evidence created a “substantial prejudice” to Duputell by compelling him into the witness box to defend himself against his right to remain silent.

Maryam Mir, acting for Duputell, said Sgt Lewis failed to caution Duputell before questioning him, failed to make a note of the conversation, failed to ask Duputell to sign a record of what he allegedly said and failed to offer him legal advice before questioning.

After his arrest police officers did not put his alleged comments to him, in contravention of the mandatory police code of practice.

Ms Mir said: “As a result the confession was entirely unreliable and it was unfair to admit it as evidence.”

Crown prosecutor Sarah Goudarzi argued the police questions were “not a conversation where the code of practice applied”.

The prosecution against Duputell’s two co-defendants was thrown out when the three were brought to trial earlier this year.

The defence argued no proof was presented that the former office and storage rooms had been lawfully converted into flats, a project given planning permission in 1994, or that the defendants had lived at the property.

The case continues, with a verdict expected today.