G20 police sergeant 'acted in self-defence'

Kunal Dutta
Tuesday 23 March 2010 01:00

The sergeant at the centre of allegations of striking a female protester with a baton during a heated exchange at last year's G20 protest said he was acting in "self defence" after mistaking a carton of juice and camera for weapons, a court heard.

Sergeant Delroy Smellie, 47, said he struck Nicola Fisher, 36, in a "pre-emptive strike" after seeing both items in her hands. The confrontation outside the Bank of England, on April 2 last year occurred during a vigil for the death of Ian Tomlinson, a newspaper seller who died after inadvertently getting caught up in a demonstration the previous day. Mr Smellie, an officer in the Met's elite Territorial Support Group, is accused of common assault by beating. He denies the charge, and his lawyers insisted they would argue he was acting in self-defence.

As the trial opened at City of Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday, District Judge Daphne Wickham was told that Ms Fisher was not in attendance.

Nick Paul, for the prosecution, said that Ms Fisher claimed to be suffering from depression and indicated that she may be fearful of the press coverage that the trial was set to generate.

Sergeant Smellie remained stone-faced as the court was shown footage of him striking Ms Fisher across the face during last year's protest, before drawing his baton and striking her twice on the legs.

Mr Paul said that the officer had "gone from level one to level five" during an "excessive and unjustified" attack on the protester.

He also showed CCTV footage of the police operation as well as amateur video footage of the incident which had been uploaded to YouTube days after the attack.

It was the two strikes to the legs that were called into question, as it was accepted that his earlier actions were reasonable and therefore lawful.

The court heard that although Ms Fisher may have been aggressive, Sergeant Smellie's actions could not be justified. Mr Paul said: "It is plain from the footage and photographs...not in anyway [was she] seeking to get involved in an attack." The trial continues.

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