Essex police officer is cleared of assaulting man in custody at Chelmsford police station

Ipswich Magistrates Court (stock image). PIcture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich Magistrates Court (stock image). PIcture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

An Essex police officer has been cleared of assaulting a man while he was in custody at Chelmsford police station.

PC John Senior, 37, who has served with Essex Police for nine years, was found not guilty by magistrates in Ipswich yesterday.

The court heard that PC Senior had kicked David Morgan in the face while in custody after he was arrested on suspicion of breaching bail conditions on November 1 last year.

Magistrates were shown CCTV of Mr Morgan being booked into custody, where he acted aggressively and threatened to harm himself, and in his cell where he was put on ‘constant observation’.

Before he was put in his cell, Mr Morgan was heard to say: “You put me in a cell I will smash my head against the wall so hard I will die.”

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After throwing a pillow at PC Senior, Mr Morgan began putting his hands around his throat while lying on his bed in an attempt to choke himself.

PC Senior intervened, using his foot to try and move Mr Morgan’s hands from his neck, then moved closer in when this didn’t work.

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Mr Morgan then kicked out at PC Senior.

The prosecution alleged the officer then ‘lost the plot’ and lashed out at Mr Morgan, kicking him in the face and giving him a black eye.

Prosecuting, Sandra Dyer said: “By this point Mr Morgan was getting on his nerves.”

Taking the stand, PC Senior said he feared Mr Morgan would attack or spit at him, and had acted in self defence using a kick to keep a distance between them.

He said it was a split-second decision and had meant to kick Mr Morgan to the upper body and chest to keep him away.

“I was thinking he could be coming for me and will spit at me or punch me,” he said.

“He could have done anything at that point.”

Tim Johnston, a self defence expert who has trained police officers for 25 years, backed up PC Senior’s testimony, saying the officer used the correct use of force for the situation.

He said: “Anyone who is subject to what is perceived to be an attack it would be consistent with training you would use arms and legs to stave off the attack.

“His actions are consistent with his training.”

It remains to be seen whether PC Senior will face a misconduct hearing from Essex Police.

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