Special constable convicted of Wigan ex-soldier attack

A Greater Manchester Police special constable who repeatedly punched a man and then lied about the attack has been warned he faces jail.

Peter Lightfoot was filmed hitting Mark Aspinall after the former soldier had been thrown out of a Wigan club.

Mr Aspinall, 24, was himself found guilty of assaulting Lightfoot, 40, but the conviction was quashed on appeal.

Lightfoot has been convicted of assault and perjury in relation to evidence he gave at Mr Aspinall's appeal hearing.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard how Mr Aspinall, a former lance corporal, had been ejected from the nightclub when Lightfoot and two officers tried to arrest him.

He was caught on CCTV repeatedly punching Mr Aspinall as he holds him on the ground.

'Violent and unjustified'

The other two Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers, Sgt Stephen Russell, 34, and Pc Richard Kelsall, 28, both denied assaulting Aspinall and were cleared on Friday.

The officers had been alerted after Mr Aspinall's drunken behaviour in the early hours of 27 July 2008.

The court heard claims the ex-soldier, who had drunk about nine pints of beer, had interfered with a paramedic who was trying to treat a woman and racially abused an Asian doorman.

CCTV operators recorded the three officers as they subsequently tried to arrest Mr Aspinall in the middle of King Street.

In the footage, Lightfoot can be seen punching the ex-soldier up to eight times in the back as he holds his head on the ground.

Image caption Lightfoot will be sentenced next month

Mr Aspinall was initially convicted by magistrates of assaulting the police officers, but the charges were quashed on appeal.

Charges were later brought against the three officers, in July 2009, following an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Lightfoot's perjury conviction relates to the evidence he gave at Mr Aspinall's appeal hearing in November 2008.

Speaking after Monday's hearing, IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said it was clear that Mr Aspinall was "drunk, aggressive and causing a nuisance".

"He was exhibiting the kind of behaviour that police officers have the unfortunate duty to deal with on a regular basis," she said.

"However, in this incident Special Constable Lightfoot's training would appear to have been replaced by a red mist. His actions were violent, excessive and unjustified."

Ms Malik said the IPCC "respected" the decision of the jury to acquit the other two officers, who could still be subject to misconduct action.

'Well below standard'

GMP's Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said Lightfoot's conduct "fell well below the standard" expected by the force.

He added: "His actions in no way reflect the committed and professional attitude shown by the vast majority of our special constables, who are highly trained in the best ways to safely detain prisoners.

"We are even more disappointed that he knowingly lied before a criminal court."

Mr Shewan said GMP's Professional Standards Branch carried out an investigation into the incident and will decide what disciplinary action to take against the three officers involved in the case.

Lightfoot will be sentenced on 1 September and the "overwhelming likelihood" is that he will be sent to jail, the judge said.

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