North West Wales

PC cleared over Penrhyndeudraeth pepper spray incident

Caernarfon court Image copyright Google
Image caption The trial of the one remaining officer is taking place at Caernarfon Crown Court

A North Wales Police officer on trial accused of perverting the course of justice has walked free from court after the case was thrown out.

PC Robin Humphreys and another officer were charged over a pepper spray being used on a handcuffed prisoner arrested in Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd.

He and PC James Burns denied the charge at Caernarfon Crown Court.

PC Burns also denies common assault and two counts of assault causing actual bodily harm and his trial continues.

Judge Huw Rees said there was insufficient evidence to prove PC Humphreys colluded with PC Burns by giving false statements about what happened during the incident on 10 April 2016.

The jury was directed to formally return a not guilty verdict and PC Humphreys left the court.

PC Burns, giving evidence in his own trial, said he grabbed and handcuffed 28-year-old prisoner Michael Stanley by the throat because he thought the man was going to head butt him.

"I felt I just needed to defend myself," he added.

'Diffuse the situation'

After being held on the ground by officers, Mr Stanley was then placed in the back of the police car and at this point the defendant used pepper spray on him.

PC Burns said he did it because he thought Mr Stanley had calmed down when he was being held on the ground but had then tried to kick one of his colleagues.

"I have sprayed him to try and defuse the situation, to calm him down," he said.

He agreed that it had not worked and Mr Stanley then began head butting the inside of the car. At that point he sprayed the prisoner a second time.

Again, PC Burns told the court it was to calm the prisoner down.

"I don't think there were any other options open that would control his behaviour," he told the court.

PC Burns was then asked about the statement he typed up at the end of his shift describing what had happened and why he had amended it the following day.

He said after viewing the body camera footage of the incident he thought Mr Stanley's head butt threat was "not very audible".

'Seriously distressed'

Asked if he as trying to beef up his statement, he replied: "Not at all. I was just trying to clarify what I had heard."

Under cross-examination, PC Burns insisted he had not acted as a "bully."

Prosecutor Matthew Curtis suggested to him: "Red mist descended on you on the day of the incident," but the defendant replied: "It didn't, not at all."

Mr Curtis said: "It's plain from the footage he's seriously distressed as a result of the spray."

But PC Burns replied: "He's angry, he's losing his temper, he's frustrated."

The jury was told the assault, public order and criminal damage charges were dropped against Mr Stanley.

The trial continues.

More on this story