Client Not Guilty of Assaulting Police Officer: Court Finds Police Escalated the Situation Image
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Client Not Guilty of Assaulting Police Officer: Court Finds Police Escalated the Situation

Hill Twine Solicitors' client, BD, was accused of assaulting a police officer when police attended an address in response to an emergency call. The police accused BD of assaulting an emergency worker, alleging that she had physically harmed an officer when he was trying to deal with the situation. BD denied assaulting the officer, arguing that the officer had acted unlawfully using handcuffs on her when he had no right to do so. This was a case involving complex legal argument about what the police can and cannot do and the client was represented at the trial by Guy Gosheron. As a result of Guy's expert legal representation and advocacy skills, the Court found BD not guilty of assaulting the police officer, stating that the officer's actions had escalated the situation. Read on to learn more about this case.

What Was This Case About?

One afternoon in June the police attended an address after a report of a male and female having a fight in the street. When the police attended they found our client, BD, and her partner sitting in a car talking. For reasons that have never been clear, the police tried to get them to leave the car, but BD refused to do so. The police, concerned that BD was going to drive off, entered the vehicle and tried to remove the keys. Unhappy with the way she was being treated by the police, BD pointed out to them they had no right to enter her vehicle. The matter escalated and the police decided to handcuff BD. Crucially, they did not arrest her for any offence.

BD was very unhappy about the police had treated her. The police alleged that she tried to escape and, after being captured, kicked out at an officer. BD denied assaulting the officer but was nevertheless charged with an offence of assaulting an emergency worker, contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and section 1 of the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018.

How Did Hill Twine Solicitors Deal with the Criminal Proceedings?

BD was represented by a different firm of solicitors during her police station interview. She had not instructed solicitors for her first appearance at Poole Magistrates’ Court. Due to the nature of the offence she was eligible to be represented by the duty solicitor and our Paul Bevan was the allocated court duty solicitor at the first hearing. On reviewing the prosecution evidence, Paul immediately identified the concerning issues in the case, namely the police evidence that the client had been put in handcuffs and restrained on the floor to prevent escape when she was not under arrest. BD entered a not guilty plea and the matter was listed for trial. BD instructed Hill Twine Solicitors to represent her in the trial proceedings and we were able to obtain legal aid for her.

Paul Bevan immediately identified the concerning issues in the case: the client had been put in handcuffs and restrained on the floor when she was not under arrest

The allocated trial advocate was Guy Gosheron. Ahead of the trial, he spent a considerable amount of time reviewing all of the prosecution evidence. This was not an easy task and he had to chase the CPS to provide evidence that should have been served, such as the body-worn video evidence from the police officers who had attended the scene. After analysing the evidence and reviewing the applicable case law, Guy wrote to the CPS highlighting the difficulties in the case so far as the prosecution was concerned. In particular, he identified the problems for the CPS in terms of the actions the officer had taken which, in the Defence’s view, were outside of the lawful exercise of his functions. Despite Guy’s best efforts to resolve the case without the need for a trial, the matter progressed.

There was a delay in the matter finally getting to trial because of difficulties with the court’s listing. During this time, Guy produced an excellent written argument for the court (known as a ‘skeleton argument’) in which he set out the basis of the defence. This was a detailed argument identifying the law relating to the offence, the requirement for the officer to act in accordance with the lawful exercise of his functions, the evidence demonstrating that he had acted beyond his lawful remit, and the previous case law supporting the argument. This is relatively unusual in the magistrates’ court and is an example of the quality of service Hill Twine Solicitors provides

Guy produced an excellent written argument for the court in which he set out the basis of the defence. This is relatively unusual in the magistrates’ court and is an example of the quality of service Hill Twine Solicitors provides

When the matter finally came to trial, the District Judge heard evidence from two police officers, our client, and a defence witness. The account of the officer in question in evidence changed from that which the defence had understood was going to be advanced in terms of the reasons why he behaved as he did . The fact that Guy was able to adapt to this change and cross-examine the policeman to draw out the inconsistencies is testament to his skill as a trial lawyer and the preparation he had put into the case.

After a trial, the District Judge found our client not guilty. In her reasons for her decision, she stated that the police escalated the matter and she could not be sure that BD kicked out at an officer. Courts are not keen on criticising the police and so the fact that our client was acquitted by a professional judge demonstrates how good a job Guy did at testing the prosecution evidence.

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