London 2012: Devon policeman drops case to be on Olympic torch duty

A trial has been dropped in Devon after a policeman said he would rather be on Olympic torch duty than give evidence.

Michael O'Brien, 48, of Coleman Avenue, Teignmouth, was accused of breaking two of Sgt Mark Ruston's fingers while he was being arrested on 1 January 2011.

Mr O'Brien denied causing actual bodily harm and was formally found not guilty at Exeter Crown Court.

In a letter, Sgt Ruston said the trial would clash with his Olympic Torch duty shift and he would rather do that.

Tax payers' money

At the hearing, the court heard that Mr O'Brien had allegedly broken the officer's fingers after being woken in the early hours of New Year's Day 2011 at his home and accused of drink-driving.

Alex Allsop said: "The officer has now written to the prosecution informing us the matter is very old and he is very surprised that the defendant was charged.

"He said he did not consider that pursuing the case was a good use of tax payers' money and he would rather be on Olympic Torch duty on the day which has been set for the trial."

Recorder Robert Linford said: "I shall make a not guilty verdict and it is better I say nothing about Sergeant Ruston's position."

Mr O' Brien was not required to be at the court but Rupert Taylor, defending, applied for costs for his client's attendance.

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