Jailed policeman wins appeal over assault in cell caught on CCTV

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The Independent Online

A police officer who was jailed after being caught on CCTV throwing a woman head first onto the concrete floor of a cell has had his conviction overturned.

Sergeant Mark Andrews was sentenced to six months' jail after a court was shown footage of him dragging Pamela Somerville, 59, across the floor of Melksham police station in Wiltshire before shoving her into the cell.

The officer spent six days behind bars following the conviction in September, before he was released on bail pending an appeal. At Oxford Crown Court yesterday his conviction and sentence for assault causing actual bodily harm were quashed by the appeal judge, Mr Justice Bean.

The judge said he was satisfied Sgt Andrews did not intend to throw Ms Somerville into the cell and that injuries she suffered were probably caused by the door frame. Ms Somerville needed stitches to a gash above her eye following the incident in July 2008. She had been arrested for failing to provide a sample for a breath test after being found asleep in her car. The charges were later dropped.

Speaking outside court yesterday Sgt Andrews said: "I am extremely happy that the result has fell in my favour but I am extremely sorry to Mrs Somerville who received injuries while in my care. That was never my intention... if I could change that I would."

In a statement, Wiltshire Police said Sgt Andrews would remain suspended on full pay until the conclusion of an internal inquiry.

Assistant Chief Constable Patrick Geenty, who at the time of Sgt Andrews' conviction said there was "no place in Wiltshire Police for an officer like this", said yesterday: "Whilst respecting the decision of the court...the force has decided that it is appropriate for an independent force to hold an internal conduct hearing in early December which will examine the conduct of Sgt Andrews in respect of his dealings with Pamela Somerville throughout this incident."