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Police Assault – Not Guilty Verdict

Nottingham crime solicitor Louise Wright was recently instructed in a case alleging police assault at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. After a full day of trial her client was found not guilty after careful application of the relevant law.

Alleged Police Assault

Police were called to an alleged domestic disturbance.  Upon arrival, a female is standing outside the  address with her children.  She stated that her ex-partner was inside the address, refusing to leave.  The police officers entered and spoke with the male who they claimed refused to leave the property.

police assault nottingham criminal solicitor
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

The prosecution’s case was that our client was arrested for a breach of the peace.  He was said to have been initially compliant but upon being taken to the police car he began to resist.  This resulted in CS spray being used and her client being placed in leg restraints.

The officer sustained a cut to her hand during the incident.  As a result our client was further arrested for assaulting the officer in the execution of her duty.

Two Part Defence

The client’s defence had two parts:

  • that the officer had not arrested our client or explained why he was being taken against his will
  • that an arrest for breach of peace will only be lawful if the threat of the breach is imminent.

Louise argued that as the concept of a breach of the peace was loosely defined, the powers afforded to those who intend to stop or prevent a breach should be closely scrutinised by the courts to ensure that there has been no undue interference with respect of Article 5 rights.

The magistrates were referred to the leading authority of R v Howell [1982].  This defined what a breach of the peace was. Agitated or excited behaviour, not involving any injury, nor any verbal threat, cannot be a breach of the peace.

A more recent case of Hawkes v DPP [2006]  decided that language and an abusive aggressive manner might justify an arrest on the ground of an apprehended breach of the peace.  To be arrested for an actual breach of the peace there had to be an incident of violence. As a result, as in Louise’s case, verbal abuse and a refusal to get into the police car did not amount to such an incident.

Closing Speech

At the conclusion of the case, Louise argued before the Magistrates that there had been no breach of the peace.  As a result the officers did not have a power if arrest.  As a result, their purported arrest was unlawful and Louise’s client’s behaviour, by contrast, was both lawful and reasonable.  Additionally, there were inconsistencies in the police evidence that did not assist the prosecution’s case.

Having considered the evidence and the submissions the Magistrates found Louise’s client not guilty of the charge of police assault.  Her client felt that in all of the circumstances he had been wronged, and as a result he was extremely appreciative that Louise had undertaken the detailed analysis of the evidence and the issues that allowed the right verdict.

Contact Louise Wright

If you have a case that involves the need to challenge police evidence, such as police assault, then please contact Louise Wright on 0115 9599550 or email her here.

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