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Murder retrial PC admits 'short fuse'

A constable on duty at Hammersmith police station in west London the night an Irish labourer was murdered in his cell admitted yesterday in the Old Bailey that for some years he had suffered from 'a short fuse', and three years ago sought medical and psychiatric counselling to help curb his temper.

PC Emlyn Welsh was giving evidence in the retrial of Malcolm Kennedy, who is alleged to have stamped and kicked his drunken cellmate, Patrick Quinn, to death on Christmas Eve 1990. Three years ago, Mr Kennedy, 46, was convicted of killing Mr Quinn but last year the Court of Appeal quashed the verdict after new evidence emerged, and ordered a retrial.

Under examination from Michael Mansfield, QC, for the defence, PC Welsh yesterday agreed that from 1988 to 1992 he had, from time to time, difficulty in controlling what Mr Mansfield described as his 'aggressive attitudes'.

When asked by Mr Mansfield why he had denied having a temper problem when examined in court on Friday, PC Welsh said he could not remember denying it. There had been 'no deliberate intention to mislead the court'.

Mr Mansfield said that PC Welsh's problem got so bad that senior police officers advised him to seek counselling. PC Welsh said that he first went to see his doctor in April 1991, then a senior medical officer, and eventually a psychiatrist at Charing Cross Hospital. Counselling lasted for about six months.

Mr Mansfield suggested that PC Welsh had 'a bit of a short fuse', in the late hours of 23 December and early hours of 24 December 1990, with Mr Quinn. PC Welsh said he had never met Mr Quinn.

PC Welsh admitted that on occasions he had been unprofessional enough to respond to verbal and physical abuse with verbal abuse. He added that in recent years he had grown in maturity and developed in professionalism.

Mr Mansfield suggested that PC Welsh has still not succeeded in curbing his temper. In December 1993 PC Welsh assaulted his fiancee, and in November 1993 PC Welsh called police to his home to deal with an altercation.

PC Welsh said the assault was 'an isolated incident' caused by immense stress he had suffered from. Over eight years he had, he said, never once been accused of physically assaulting prisoners.

The trial continues.