Toronto police make arrest in 'Spiceman' case

Conservative New Brunswick MP John Williamson meets with Naveen Polapady a Toronto restaurant owner who was charged win assaulting a man who robbed his restaurant. Chris Doucette story. He sample some of the spicy chicken whose spices were thrown in the face of the robber.



TORONTO -- Police have arrested a man in connection with last summer's high-profile "Spiceman" case.

However, the man arrested is not the same would-be thief who garnered national attention after getting a dose of Indian masala spice thrown into his eyes by Toronto-based restaurant owner Naveen Polapady during an altercation.

"As I said originally, there would be more information to come and it would be prudent for people to not rush to judgment," Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said. "If you are asking me if the same person charged with the Aug. 17 alleged incident is the same person who was taken to hospital on Aug. 21 the answer would be no."

Jason Mitchell, 40, of no fixed address, was arrested Thursday for allegedly breaking into a parked car and stealing a quantity of electronic equipment from the vehicle on the morning of Aug. 17, 2011.

Maroli Indian Kerala Restaurant owner Naveen Polapady was dubbed "The Spiceman" after he threw his famous home-made Indian masala spice mix into the face of a man who appeared to be breaking into a car in the alley behind the Bloor St. W restaurant and home on Aug. 21, 2011. A security tape at the establishment captured the scuffle between the pair.

When the alleged thief took off on his bicycle, Polapady called 911 and followed the man.

But to Polapady's surprise, when police reviewed the security footage, Polapady himself was placed under arrest and charged with assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, and administering a noxious substance - the spices.

The man involved in the direct confrontation with Polapady was also arrested and interviewed by police for "the better part of a day," on Aug. 21, Pugash said, but was released as there was "no evidence to charge him."

When asked if it was in fact possible that more than one thief had been frequenting the area near Bloor St. and Bathurst St. Pugash simply said that he "cannot speculate."
Polapady himself did not comment on Thursday, but his lawyer Calvin Barry said his client was "pleased they made an arrest."

"As far as the issues pertaining to my client being charged, I think its now best to wait for the trial and let the evidence presented speak for itself."

The incident even caught the attention of a number of politicians, most notably Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Prime Minister's Office called Polapady on Mar. 31, 2012 to provide the restaurant owner moral support.
Mitchell, the man arrested on Thursday, was scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall on April 12 at 10 a.m.

He has been charged with theft under, possession of property obtained by crime and failure to comply to a recognizance in connection with the case.

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