Police officer sentenced for assault on woman in custody

07/09/2010

Wiltshire police sergeant Mark Andrews has today (7 September) been sentenced to six months in prison for assaulting a woman in custody, using what Crown Prosecution Service reviewing lawyer Adrian Roberts described as 'excessive force'. The hearing took place at Oxford Magistrates' Court before Deputy District Judge Greenfield.

Mr Roberts, Head of the Complex Casework Unit for CPS Thames and Chiltern, said: "We decided that there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and it was in the public interest to prosecute Sergeant Andrews, who used excessive force against this woman while he was on duty.

"This was a serious allegation against a serving police officer on duty. We received a file of evidence from Wiltshire Police Professional Standards department, which included video footage showing the incident between Sergeant Andrews and the woman detained, and a statement from another police officer working under Sergeant Andrews, who had witnessed the scene."

The court was told at an earlier hearing that Sgt Andrews had been working as custody sergeant at Melksham Police Station in Wiltshire, on July 4, 2008 when a 59 year-old women was brought to the Police Station after being arrested for failure to provide a breath test. 

Evidence showed that the woman became verbally abusive and non-co-operative and while struggling with a female detention officer, she pushed her way out of the cells, and Sergeant Andrews intervened. CCTV footage showed Sergeant Andrews picking up the woman with violence and throwing her through the air back into the cell, where she landed on her face and suffered an injury to her head. She was taken to hospital, treated and then returned to the police station. 

She was charged by the police with failure to provide a breath test, but the charge was subsequently dropped as the CPS felt there was insufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

The incident was witnessed by another officer, who, concerned by what had taken place decided to report the incident to one of her supervisors.

Adrian Roberts said: "Members of the public who go through the criminal justice system, whether they are victims, witnesses or defendants should be treated in a professional way. The CPS would also like to thank the other officer in this case who performed her duty and reported this crime."

Sergeant Andrews was found guilty of causing actual bodily harm at Oxford Magistrates' court by Deputy District Judge Greenfield on 13 July. His case was reviewed by CPS Thames and Chiltern, rather than CPS Wiltshire, as is standard practice with such incidents.