Record payout for police victim

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The Independent Online
A man truncheoned over the head while handcuffed yesterday received the highest damages award yet made against a police force. Daniel Goswell, 29, of Woolwich, south-east London, was awarded pounds 302,000. The Metropolitan Police said it planned to appeal against the decision. The award was made against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner at the Central London County Court.

The court heard that in November 1990 Mr Goswell, who was waiting for his girlfriend in Woolwich, was approached by Constable Rhys Trigg as he sat in a car with a friend.

His solicitor, Jane Deighton, said in the minutes that followed Mr Goswell was handcuffed to other officers. It was at that point he was hit on the head by Pc Trigg. The blow required five stitches and left a scar. Mr Goswell was arrested and prosecuted but later acquitted of two charges of assaulting police.

Two years after the incident, Pc Trigg was sacked by Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. But he appealed and the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, reversed the decision. The officer was reinstated in 1993.

Ms Deighton said yesterday: "Daniel feels great about the award ... He will now be asking that those officers who gave evidence which was not believed should be disciplined for lying. What is particularly chilling is that Pc Trigg told the jury that he would do it all again."

The jury awarded Mr Goswell pounds 120,000 for damages suffered in the assault; pounds 12,000 for false imprisonment; and pounds 170,000 exemplary damages for what it considered to be the arbitrary and oppressive behaviour of the police.

The Metropolitan Police considered the awards "excessive". It admitted Mr Goswell was assaulted but not the degree of force said to have been used in the incident. It said it would be taking no action against the officers involved.