Army cook 'was beaten up by police officers'

AN Army cook yesterday told a court how he was wrongly arrested and beaten up by two policemen for being a 'smart arse'.

Neil Denton, 29, a sergeant with the Army Catering Corps, told Southwark Crown Court that he was grabbed by the throat, thrown into the back of a police van and then flung into a wall when he complained.

The soldier was stationed at Wellington Barracks, Chelsea, west London, at the time of the alleged offences on 28 April, last year.

Constable Robert Huntley, 25, and Sergeant Richard Thompson, 34, both deny assault and perverting the cause of justice. Sgt Thompson also pleads not guilty to two charges of misconduct.

Peter Finnigan, for the prosecution, said the two British Transport Police officers based at Ebury Bridge station, Victoria, central London, approached Mr Denton outside a late night takeaway in Vauxhall Bridge Road.

He said the policemen became angry with Mr Denton because of some alleged remarks, and PC Huntley arrested him. The constable then became aggressive and grabbed him by the throat.

Mr Finnigan said that Sgt Thompson, the senior officer at the scene, looked on and failed to act when PC Huntley carried out a second attack in the police station. He also said that the two officers changed their accounts of the incident to 'hide the truth'.

The policemen claim that Mr Denton was rightly arrested for being drunk and disorderly and only 'minimum force' was used to restrain him.

Mr Denton told the court he had been out drinking with a fellow soldier celebrating a posting, but was not drunk. He said: 'I saw an officer in the kebab shop and said: 'It's nice of him to get in the station supplies with the tax payers' money whilst on duty.'

'Then the Sherpa van with Thompson and Huntley turned up and I said, 'They've sent for reinforcements. They've run out of supplies'.'

He added: 'Huntley was the main instigator . . . He came up to me and said, 'If you don't shut up I'll arrest you for being drunk and disorderly'.

'I laughed and replied, 'I'm not drunk and I'm definitely not disorderly'. With that Huntley grabbed me . . .'

Mr Denton said his friend tried to intervene but was warned that he faced being arrested too.

At the station, he alleged, he was subjected to another attack by PC Huntley. 'I said, 'You shouldn't be doing this'. But he just carried on and said, 'You're a smart arse. You're too sure of yourself'.'

Mr Denton, who made his complaint after being cautioned for disorderly behaviour, said his throat was 'black and blue' for three weeks after the attack.

The trial continues today.