PC denies raising fist to saboteur
A POLICE officer grabbed a hunt saboteur by the throat and threatened him with a fist to his face during a bad-tempered fox-hunt, a court heard.Pc Keith Warren, who is based at Hadleigh, was trying to police what one seasoned officer called the "hardest hunt to keep control of" he had ever experienced.
A POLICE officer grabbed a hunt saboteur by the throat and threatened him with a fist to his face during a bad-tempered fox-hunt, a court heard.
Pc Keith Warren, who is based at Hadleigh, was trying to police what one seasoned officer called the "hardest hunt to keep control of" he had ever experienced.
Ipswich magistrates heard yesterday how the incident, which saw Pc Warren, 48, charged with assault by beating, happened at a meeting of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds.
Prosecuting, Andrew Oliver told the court that the attack happened as the hunt, held in Chattisham, near Ipswich, on September 14 last year, was drawing to a close.
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Giving evidence, victim Bevan Earey, a factory worker and long-time saboteur, said: "We were walking back to our vehicles after the hunt when Pc Warren charged towards me saying that he wanted a word with me.
"I side-stepped him because he seemed quite angry, and there was no reason for me to talk to him.
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"He kept coming towards me shouting, then launched his left hand against my throat and raised his right hand to my cheek with his fist clenched.
"I felt intimidated and had to take a step back because of the force of him grabbing me. He looked as if his eyes were bulging out of his head, full of anger, and I thought he was going to throw some punches."
Christine Earey, Mr Earey's mother who was with him at the hunt, also gave evidence. She said: "I could see that Pc Warren had got hold of Bevan and his fist was very near to his face.
"I got in between them to try and calm the situation down – Pc Warren's left hand was in Bevan's throat area and his eyes were really wild."
The court heard the attack was allegedly sparked by Mr Earey hurling abuse at Pc Warren after he had seen the officer talking to "the terrier man", a member of the hunt whom the saboteur was said to have threatened earlier.
But Mr Earey denied the claim, saying he had no personal vendetta against Pc Warren and had not been abusive or threatening to anyone at the hunt.
Matthew McNiff, defending Pc Warren, accused prosecution witnesses of playing down their "appalling behaviour" at the meeting and focusing on anything which was detrimental to his client.
"You only see what you want to see," he said. "Your behaviour was such that it involved an escalated hurling of abuse towards the hunt.
"It has been described as the hardest hunt ever to keep control over by an experienced officer."
Pc Warren's police interview was also read out, in which he revealed that he did not agree with fox-hunting, but felt that policing the hunt was his job.
He explained that he had spoken to "the terrier man", who told him that Mr Earey had threatened him, while a fellow police officer informed him that Mr Earey had been verbally abusing the huntsman.
And he denied using a clenched fist or grabbing Mr Earey, saying he just wanted to talk to him about his behaviour.
"I went up to Mr Earey and asked to speak to him," he added. "In my opinion his attitude was to try to go past me.
"He kept going. I had the option of either CS gas or stick but I decided against them. I used my palm heel in his arm area to push him away.
"His face had got redder and his expression was that of aggression. I feared for my own safety as to whether he would assault me or not.
"I did what I did because of the situation. Because of his aggression and his statue, I felt that I might have been assaulted."
The trial continues.