An innocent old age pensioner was strip-searched by cops after she was accused of being the king pin of a shoplifting gang.
Gwen Richardson, 67, is demanding an apology from supermarket chain Asda after her family was subjected to degrading searches and even accused of bribery by a security guard – despite producing receipts for all her in-store purchases.
Gwen’s husband Tony Richardson, 70, who suffered a stroke in 2010 and has an irregular heart beat, was also searched by police along with the pair’s adult daughter who has mental health problems.
Doctors later confirmed the stressful situation of being confronted by officers worsened Tony’s condition.
Describing the event, Gwen, of York, North Yorks., said: “As we were leaving the store I said ‘there’s a lot of police here today, they must be watching something’.
“As we went through, the alarm went off and the security guard approached us.
“He asked if we had underwear in our bags – he then said we were a shoplifting gang. I said: ‘You what?’
“He said we had been moving clothes about and hiding them on our persons.”
At this point the family had been split up and the pensioners’ daughter, who has bipolar disorder, was already being stripped down to her knickers in a separate room.
Shocked Gwen said: “She was taken to a room and stripped to her underwear.
“In the meantime, I showed them the receipts and said we’ve got all this shopping in here.”
At that moment, Gwen dropped a £20 note and the security guard told her: “You can’t bribe me with that.”
Mrs Richardson added: “I said ‘this is unbelievable, I just can’t believe what’s going on’.”
Gwen was then taking into the same room as her daughter to be strip-searched.
The pensioners visit the Asda store at Monks Cross every Friday – but on March 4 they got the shock of their lives.
Gwen added: “My husband was struggling to answer the police questions because of his speech problems due to his stroke.
“My husband was looking very distressed – but the policeman said he was just doing his job.”
Doctors admitted Mr Richardson to hospital the following Tuesday because the stress of the situation made him deteriorate so badly.
Speaking about the effect the event had on her husband, Gwen said: “It has set his speech back about five years and could take him another two years before it gets right.”
The mother-of-one is now seeking legal action against the superstore.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson confirmed: “Police were called to Asda by staff there who reported concerns of suspected shoplifting. Officers attended the store – but no offences were identified and no further action taken.”
An Asda spokesperson said: “We’re sorry for any embarrassment caused to the Richardson family, this was never our intention. We hope to welcome them back into our York store again soon.”