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Newton Abbot man : 'I was treated terribly by police'

By This is Devon  |  Posted: August 24, 2010

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A NEWTON Abbot man has lodged an official complaint with police after he was acquitted in court of resisting and assaulting a female police constable.

Andrew Lane, 47, from Applegarth Avenue, was 'pepper' sprayed and claims he was tasered twice with 50,000 volts during the arrest outside the Lime Tree Pub in Dartmouth Road, Paignton, last December.

Mr Lane was charged with a public order offence, resisting PC Dionne Williams in the execution of her duty and assaulting PC Williams.

However, on the second day of the hearing at Newton Abbot Magistrates' Court, the bench found him not guilty of all three allegations.

After the trial, Mr Lane said 'justice had been served' but that his 'character had been marred'.

He explained that on December 28 he had been out celebrating his birthday with his son and another friend, having moved to South Devon just two weeks earlier.

Police were called to escort three men from the Lime Tree Pub after staff refused to serve them at 8.30pm.

Mr Lane said he was going through the police complaints procedure because of the way he was treated, the injuries he received and because he says he was tasered twice in the incident that was reported on the front page of the Herald Express at the time.

He said: "I am glad it is all over and the truth has come out. It was a lot of pressure on me over the last eight months wondering what was going to happen.

"I feel I was treated terribly by the police.

"I was doing as I was told and I was told to leave and I was walking away. I was grabbed, pepper sprayed and tasered twice while I was laid on the ground.

"I think I was unconscious, but I regained consciousness face down on the pavement and I believe the injuries to my face came from when I was pressed on to the floor."

He said he believed police were heavy-handed with him and his son.

The magistrates' records office confirmed all three charges against Mr Lane had been dismissed.

Mr Lane added: "I had just moved to the area and two weeks later I was in the newspaper saying I had punched a policewoman. It marred my character and I don't think it is right. It needs to be put right because it wasn't the case at all.

"Justice has been served now. I was found not guilty on all charges and I am going forward with the police complaints procedure."

He said his complaint was about the way he was treated during his arrest and while he was in police custody.

However, the complaint has not been able to proceed until his case was dealt with. Scenes of crime officers did take photographs of his injuries following the incident.

At the time, police said a female police officer had been left with a black eye after she was allegedly punched in the face by Mr Lane.

They also said he 'violently resisted arrest' and 'thrashed' out with his arms and legs.

Police also said he was tasered during the arrest.

A spokesman from Devon and Cornwall Police said: "The complaint was received in January this year, and was sub judice pending the court case. Now that has been finalised it will be investigated."

After the trial, Mr Lane's defence solicitor Alan Parsons said: "It was very important case to my client because he had no previous convictions or cautions and it was important to him to maintain his good name."

He said the bench heard evidence from eight prosecution witnesses, six of whom were police officers, and two were civilian witnesses.

"All of the police officers were police constables.

"From the time the magistrates went out to consider their verdict at the end of the evidence to the time that they delivered their verdict was 90 minutes.

"Included in that 90 minutes was some 10 or 15 minutes of them being back in court watching a particular section of the video footage and formulating their reasons for the decision and being advised by their court clerk."

Ed Canning, the Crown Prosecution Service reviewing lawyer, said: "As with every case brought to us, we reviewed this in line with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. "We felt there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

"However on hearing that evidence, the court decided it was insufficient to convict Mr Lane."

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  • Profile image for This is Devon
    Andy, Brixham  |  August 26 2010, 6:43PM

    There are number of well considered opinions here and I can fully understand both sides of the civil liberties verses ¿police state¿ argument. The Herald Express is in the business of selling papers and sensationalised headlines are the way to do it so I though I would have a stab at a balanced appraisal: Recent HM Crown Prosecution Inspectorate findings show that the overall conviction rate for Magistrates in Devon & Cornwall was 84.6% compared to a national average of 80.8% so there is substance to support the argument that Magistrates are more likely to believe the prosecutions version of events. That said, there is also a much greater chance of a trial failing when there are multiple witnesses as there is a far greater chance of arrest notes and statements being contradictory and at odds with recorded (cctv) footage. Trying to remember events accurately can be notoriously difficult immediately after a violent confrontation but the law requires that they are completed as soon as is reasonably practicable. The case against Mr Lane was dismissed as there was insufficient evidence to convict. A dismissal does not mean not guilty. It means the charges have been dropped, at least for the moment. If they are dismissed with prejudice, it is definite and charges cannot be reinstated. If they are dismissed without prejudice, they can be reinstated if it is in the public interest and within the applicable statutes of limitations. The article does not clarify this point. It is interesting to note that the scenes of crime officers took photographs of the injuries to Mr Lane following the incident as well as the female police officer who had been left with a black eye after she was allegedly punched in the face by Mr Lane. This to me does not sound like the police were trying to cover up or distort what had happened at the time of the arrest but were gathering all available evidence to place a balanced case before the court as they are required by law to do - I am sure that Mr Lane¿s representatives will be happy to avail themselves of this evidence in support of any future claim for compensation. The Crown Prosecution Service reviewed all the available evidence and decided that 1. There was sufficient evidence to place the matter before the court 2. It was in the public interest to prosecute and 3. The chances of a conviction were more likely that an acquittal. For reasons we are not privy to, the Magistrates felt that on the evidence placed before them, the case was not proved beyond all reasonable doubt. I have enjoyed reading the police being over zealous Vs Mr Lane not being able to hold his drink debate but I am not sure it is worth the long suffering tax payer having to pick up what is going to be a pretty substantial bill. If Mr Lane does receive compensation, is there any chance that he could give some of it to worthy causes? The Devon Horse & Pony Sanctuary look after retired police horses and this sorry mess could use a happy ending.

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    Tony, Torquay  |  August 25 2010, 6:43PM

    There seem to be a whole lot of people below who can tell us precisely what happened and why it was perfectly acceptable for Mr Lane to have been beaten to a pulp- even though they were not there and know nothing about it. Terry of Torquay has hit the nail on the head. Six police officers gave evidence. Magistrates are, as he says, very biased to accept whatever police officers say. The clue is in the reference to the Bench wanting to see the CCTV again. I would guess that the video camera and the police officers told different stories- hence the acquittal. And yes, there is an element of beat em up first question them later element in the police in Torbay. All the contributors who seek to condone police over-reaction need to remember that freedom is a precious thing. Enough of our rights were destroyed by the last Government without us voluntarily sleepwalking into a police state.

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    Sarah, Exeter  |  August 25 2010, 1:41PM

    Does anyone know what the police have to go through once they have sprayed or tasered someone? Believe me, these things are not done likely and it certainly sounds from the witnesses that this man deserved it - shame the paper didn't bother to dig a bit deeper !

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    terry, torquay  |  August 25 2010, 10:11AM

    The man was cleared by the court for crying out load, magistrates are notorious for beleiving just about anything the police say so they must have been absolutley convinced of his innocence. I was a voluntary (special pc) in exeter about 6 years ago and do realise the police have a tough job but there seems to be a lot of people joining the force purely to rough people up knowing they can often get away with it.

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    ali120101, Devon  |  August 25 2010, 9:49AM

    I agree with Stephen. Sounds like he should have stopped drinking a lot earlier and gone home. People like Mr Lane just make me cross - he would have been drunk and aggressive or else the landlord would not have asked him to leave. If he'd had some self control and gone home earlier none of this would have happened

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    sarah kent, Devon  |  August 25 2010, 9:40AM

    Maybe if Mr Lane has gone home earlier and not stayed out until he was asked to leave by the Landlord none of this would have happened. People like him who get drunk and offensive really upset me - he should learn some self control and learn when it's time to go home. No sympathy from me I'm afraid

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    D i c k, Torquay  |  August 25 2010, 12:42AM

    Well said Steven, Torquay and Martin Brown, Brixham...and a few others...there is more to this than meets the eye...just out for a drink in Paignton from Newton Abbot, been here two weeks...all seems not right here. I see the Herald are printing the name and email of the reporter writing the garbage these days...I am guessing that the email address is not right...capitals in the address, the address spelt incorrectly, mind you that sums this paper up, they do not get anything right,, that goes for the story aswell.

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    stephen, torquay  |  August 24 2010, 8:33PM

    perhaps he had too much to drink. the publican acted responsibly and refused to serve him, this escalated from there, who is to blame, not the publican. the police don´t pepper spray and taser somebody for fun, so who is to blame for this, Andrew?

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    devon janner, kkw  |  August 24 2010, 7:14PM

    2 weeks does not make you a local newton abbot man!!!!!!!

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    Martin Brown, Brixham  |  August 24 2010, 7:10PM

    I suppose Mr Lane and his son were quietly enjoying a family celebration at the Lime Tree pub when for no reason whatsoever the staff decided not to serve them and called the police. And I suppose that the officers who responded to the call from the staff at the pub decided that even though Mr Lane was a fine upstanding member of society they would pepper spray and taser him because they had nothing better to do. Andi I suppose if we are not to believe that Mr Lane hits women, the officer with the black eye must have punced herself in the face to 'fit him up good and proper'. Oh please, there is a gulf of difference between charges being dismissed as a result of insufficient evidence and someone being ¿innocent of blame¿. Rather than count himself lucky and crawling back under whatever stone he came from, Mr Lane is now basking in his moment of infamy and looking to fleece the law abiding tax payers among us by wheedling some compensation for the injuries he apparently sustained when the police rudely interrupt his ¿celebration¿. Anti-social behavior is blighting our towns and the police are constantly being criticised for over reacting but based on the moronic behaviour I see outside our pubs and clubs on a Friday and Saturday night I would be frankly amazed if they didn¿t. Let¿s not loose sight of the bigger picture here folks - if you really want to stop this sort of mindless behaviour becoming the norm and spoiling things for everyone else, we need to start getting behind the police and give people like Mr Lane short shrift. No one else is going to do it for us. As for Kewdos's comments about the 'culture', the only one I can see from where I am standing is the 'Yob' one.