CS spray man gets police compensation for Brentwood arrest

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Media captionA TV cameraman filmed Alan Lethbridge being sprayed with the CS gas

A man who was sprayed in the face with CS gas by police officers has been awarded a £21,000 compensation payout.

Essex Police agreed the out-of-court settlement to Alan Lethbridge but has not apologised.

Mr Lethbridge, 34, of Romford, said he has had mental health problems since being sprayed during his arrest in Brentwood High Street in 2009.

The former builder said he hoped to "rebuild his life" with the money and work again.

Mr Lethbridge bought a van with part of his compensation money and is about to return to work, as a delivery driver, for the first time since his arrest.

Image caption Mr Lethbridge said it is "disappointing" the force has not issued an apology

"The money just doesn't do it justice and it wasn't about the money," he said.

"It was about the principle that I hadn't done anything in the first place.

"It's just a relief that it is all finished with, but it's disappointing that I never got an apology."

Defensive skills training

In 2010 the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigated and decided Mr Lethbridge's arrest was lawful, but the two people who were sprayed with CS gas should have been given a clear warning.

A TV cameraman filmed the CS spray being discharged close to Mr Lethbridge's face.

Following the IPCC inquiry, the three police officers involved went on a defensive skills training refresher course and the officer who deployed the CS spray was given advice on its use.

Image caption Alan Lethbridge (centre) was collected from police custody by his father and a friend

The Crown Prosecution Service had previously decided the officers should not face any criminal charges.

Mr Lethbridge was convicted for spitting in the face of a paramedic in April 2010, but it was quashed after an appeal.

Charges of being drunk and disorderly and using threatening words or behaviour were dropped.

"For the five to six years I've been on anti-depressants, the doctors diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder and I've been having counselling," said Mr Lethbridge.

"My life has been complete hell for the past five years."

Essex Police told BBC Look East it would not issue an apology as Mr Lethbridge's complaint to Essex Police was not upheld by the IPCC.

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