Carousing PCs get two years for rampage: Officers barged into house after plea to 'shut up'

THREE police officers were jailed for two years at the Old Bailey yesterday for barging into the home of a Sandhurst Army cadet who told them to shut up because they were singing in the street after a night out.

Their victim, Francis Milburn, 22, was later arrested and charged with assault. He was due to go to the Royal Military Academy last September but had to put it off because he was facing a criminal charge.

Lawyers for Nicholas Jones, 29, John Walsh, 30, and Jonathan Lehrle, 26, immediately sought to appeal against the convictions for affray and attempting to pervert the course of justice. They also asked for bail pending any appeal. But it was rejected by Judge Neil Butter, who said he was totally unpersuaded.

The policemen had been convicted last month and remanded on bail for pre-sentence reports - but yesterday the judge turned down appeals for suspended sentences to be imposed.

The court had been told that the three off-duty PCs had been drinking at the Anglesea Arms in Chelsea, west London, and, arm-in-arm, were 'carousing' and singing noisily outside the home of Mr Milburn after closing time. He was studying for his finals at the London School of Economics.

After he told them to shut up they made indecent gestures and told him to come down. Mr Milburn had taken a truncheon because he found the situation threatening and he did not realise they were police officers.

The officers then barged into his house. 'I did not know who these people were. To me they were hostile intruders. I thought they wanted to kick my head in,' he told the court. During the struggle, he hit PC Jones.

Mr Milburn was cleared later at a magistrates' court where the three officers had all given evidence against him. Afterwards the three policemen were arrested and charged.

Walsh, who received the baton of honour at police training college and was commended for bravery, was cleared of charges of assaulting Mr Milburn's mother, Angela, and stepfather, Robert Scott, who were allegedly pushed down steps outside their home in Fulham, south-west London.

Passing sentence, Judge Butter said: 'I have no doubt what happened that night was the result of drink you had consumed, even though you were not drunk. You made statements which were, in part, untrue, which led to the prosecution of Francis Milburn. You went on to give untrue evidence against him. This offence was a further abuse of your powers as police officers.'