North West Wales

Wrestling officer 'broke man's collarbone' in Caernarfon cell

North Wales Police headquarters Image copyright Eirian Evans/Geograph

A police officer accused of lifting a suspect off his feet with such force it broke his collarbone is a competitive wrestler, a hearing has been told.

Jason Pritchard, 42, had been in the police cells in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, when the alleged incident happened in December 2015.

Custody Sgt Jethro Christie, who has represented Great Britain in wrestling, denies gross misconduct.

He denied using a wrestling-style manoeuvre on Mr Pritchard.

Mr Pritchard had spent the night in the cells after being arrested for threatening behaviour on Boxing Day.

He claimed Sgt Christie lifted him up off the floor breaking his collarbone when he asked him about his son the next morning.

'Cage fighting'

Sgt Christie told the hearing at North Wales Police head office in Colwyn Bay he had competed in various fighting sports, including representing Great Britain in Greco-Roman wrestling.

He also said he had competed in mixed martial arts and cage fighting.

But, Sgt Christie denied using a "full Nelson" manoeuvre, similar to that used in wrestling - which involves passing both arms around the opponent's armpits and neck - to restrain Mr Pritchard.

"I've never used that manoeuvre in any sports event or any police event," he said.

He told the hearing Mr Pritchard seemed angry and aggressive and approached him "with his chest puffed out". He attempted several different techniques to restrain him but they failed.

"I went for the low level minimal force option first, but he just broke out of that. He broke out of each technique I put on him," he said.

'Pain in shoulder '

Earlier in the hearing Mr Pritchard said the incident had happened very quickly.

"I can't recall much of my reaction, just being lifted up into the air by him, then another officer grabbed my legs and I was thrown into the cell with a pain in my shoulder."

When questioned by Stephen Crossley, a barrister representing Sgt Christie, Mr Pritchard admitted he could not remember all of the exchange which led to him being restrained.

The hearing continues.

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