£100 payout to police 'torture' victim

 

Two members of police staff
who twisted and grabbed the arms of a man in custody to make him answer
questions have been ordered to pay him £100 in compensation.

David Healer screamed in pain as he was assaulted by police custody sergeant Stephen Harvey and civilian detention officer Michael Mount after his arrest in County Durham in March last year.

The attack was condemned as a form of torture by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Harvey, 50, and Mount, 61, were each convicted of two counts of common assault at a trial at Teesside Magistrates' Court in March.

Today, they were told to pay £50 each to Mr Healer as compensation.

Harvey was told to pay £1,395 in fines and costs for his role in the attack, while Mount was told to pay a total of £730.

Footage of the incident at Peterlee police station was played to the court today.

The footage showed Harvey twisting Mr Healer's arm behind his back as Mount held his other arm.

He was then grabbed by both wrists across the custody suite desk by both defendants after again refusing to answer questions.

DIY shop boss Mr Healer, who sat in the public gallery to watch the sentencing, left the courtroom wiping his eyes as his screams of pain were played on the DVD.

The 48-year-old, of Seaham, County Durham, who had recently been treated in hospital and was an angina sufferer, told the trial he thought he would die in the attack.

He is repeatedly heard requesting a doctor on the footage.

Harvey, of Chester-le-Street, and Mount, of Thornley, both County Durham, argued that they used reasonable force to restrain Mr Healer, who had been arrested on suspicion of breaching bail conditions and assaulting a police officer.

Both men had exemplary records during their time in the police and the incident last year was described as being out of character.

Steven Crossley, for Harvey, said: "The consequences of these convictions for Mr Harvey has already been great.

"He's someone who prides himself on being a good police officer, prides himself on his reputation.

"Of course, there has been devastating damage to that reputation as a result of these convictions. That represents real punishment to him."

Sentencing both men, Oliver Johnson, chair of the bench, said: "The greater punishment you will have received today is not the fine but the fact that your position in society will be severely downgraded in a bad way.

"Your unblemished character has gone."

Speaking outside court after the sentencing, father-of-six Mr Healer said he was happy with the outcome.

He said he would be pursuing a claim for compensation for injuries to his spine, which he said he received as a result of the assault.

He said: "At the end of the day, it's the consequences of what they did in society that's going to affect them.

"It's a shame that two people have ruined their careers over this."

Mr Healer continued: "As far as I'm concerned, it's over now."

Stephen Gowland, Mr Healer's solicitor, said: "Mr Healer suffered a great injustice but today at least he can be content that justice has been done."

He added: "My client's life has been affected greatly by the treatment he received both mentally and physically and he now has to live with severe pain for the rest of his life, due to the serious spinal injuries incurred in this incident."

Mr Gowland said Mr Healer was lucky to be alive after the assault.

"Stephen Harvey and Michael Mount were tasked to ensure the safety of the public and uphold the law and failed to do so," he said.

"Since 1990, nearly 1,000 people have died in police custody in England and Wales. My client thought he was going to die in the police station and it is only through luck that he was not part of those statistics."

Deputy Chief Constable Mike Barton, of Durham Police, said the excessive force used by the two staff members was wrong and should not have happened.

Speaking outside court, Mr Barton said: "Durham Constabulary aims to treat everyone who comes into custody with due respect, dignity and fairness and in accordance with the law and codes of practice.

"When this does not happen, then we take the appropriate action and, on this occasion, our professional standards were not upheld.

"The actions of our staff were completely out of character but they were wrong and this should not have happened.

"This was clearly a case where there has been a use of excessive force."

Mr Barton added: "Without wishing to condone the actions of these particular members of staff, I must point out that custody can be a very challenging environment for our staff. They regularly have to deal with people who are drunk, or violent, or both.

"We process around 20,000 people a year and, in the vast majority of these cases, there are no issues."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power