Essex

Officer 'joked about fingertip loss' in Colchester cell

cell door
Image caption The man lost the tips of three fingers in a cell in 2015

A police officer joked about a man losing three fingertips when he was pulled away from a cell toilet by five officers, a misconduct panel has heard.

The 33-year-old Romanian national got his fingers caught under the metal rim of the seat, severing the ends, the hearing was told.

A panel at Chelmsford Civic Centre was told that one officer later joked about it, using jelly sweets as props.

Five officers face gross misconduct charges over the 2015 incident.

The mentally ill man, referred to as Mr S, was arrested on 30 April after a driver reported him for exposing himself on a bus.

He was booked into Colchester police station and observed "shouting and banging on the wall of his cell", the panel heard.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The incident happened in a custody cell at Colchester police station in 2015

Officers entered his cell after a sergeant saw on CCTV that he had put his foot into the toilet at about 02:00 BST on 1 May.

Stephen Morley, for the appropriate authority, told the hearing: "There was no sensible reason to use this force to remove him from the toilet.

"No-one seemed to step back and say simply, 'what are we doing?"'

Footage played to the panel showed one of the officers, Insp Christopher Tyler, rap Mr S on the hand with a baton.

Other officers are heard to remark "he's oblivious to pain" and "just rap his knuckles, he'll...get off then".

Once Mr S was pulled loose, an officer said: "He's actually lost the end of his fingers."

Image caption The police misconduct panel is hearing evidence at Chelmsford's Civic Centre

Mr S was taken to hospital but the severed parts of his left fingers could not be reattached.

The disciplinary hearing was told Insp Tyler had joked in October 2015 about what happened using jelly sweets "in the shape of fingers".

"It very much looks like Inspector Tyler was making a joke at Mr S's expense," Mr Morley said.

Insp Tyler, Temp Sgt Marcus Buckley, PC Joseph Hawthorne, PC Nicholas Pulham and PC Richard Philipsen all deny gross misconduct.

They claim they were trying to remove Mr S to stop him from hurting himself and prevent him putting his head in the toilet.

The hearing continues.

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