Wiltshire

Wiltshire police officer relieved at assault acquittal

Sgt Mark Andrews. Pic: Wiltshire Police
Image caption Sgt Andrews spent six days in jail after being convicted, but was released on bail pending appeal.

A Wiltshire police officer, cleared on appeal of assaulting a woman in custody, has spoken of his relief at being acquitted.

Sgt Mark Andrews was filmed on CCTV dragging Pamela Somerville through Melksham police station in July 2008.

In September, he was found guilty of causing her actual bodily harm and jailed for six months.

Speaking after the appeal, he said: "Obviously I'm extremely happy that the result has found in my favour."

He added: "I'm extremely sorry to Mrs Somerville who received injuries whilst in my care. That was never my intention.

"I was only trying to place her back in her cell and if I could have changed that, I would. It was never any intent on my part to cause her injury and I'm just glad it went my way."

An appeal court judge, on Thursday, quashed Sgt Andrews' conviction, saying he was satisfied he had not deliberately meant to harm Mrs Somerville.

Conduct hearing

The 59-year-old was arrested after being found asleep in her car and had been detained for failing to provide a breath test sample.

The court was shown CCTV footage in which Sgt Andrews is seen throwing her on to the cell floor.

She is then seen staggering to her feet, with injuries to her face and eye.

Sgt Andrews was suspended on full pay following his conviction and had been expected to lose his job.

He still faces a conduct hearing into his behaviour.

After the acquittal, Mrs Somerville said she was "disappointed" at the decision and that the last two years had been very difficult for her.

Cath Hollands, from the Wiltshire Police Federation, said the incident should not deter officers from reporting issues of concern.

"On the one hand we've got an officer who's been accused of a criminal act and now exonerated," she said.

"And we've got another officer who did absolutely the right thing. I want to make that really clear.

"Officers shouldn't feel that they're unable to raise issues that concern them and go to management."

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