Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My prison ordeal: By British cop wrongly jailed for 'attack' on violent drunken schoolboy

A policeman jailed for punching a drunken yob has spoken of his ordeal after he was freed on appeal. PC Daniel Gaffney had been found guilty of punching the 12-year-old boy in the face, breaking his nose - and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison. The father- of-two spent three nights in jail before being released on bail pending an appeal.

His conviction was quashed after the schoolboy, who has several convictions for assault, admitted he had been about to attack the officer when he was punched. It was eventually ruled that PC Gaffney, 30, had acted in self-defence. 'It was a split-second decision in a difficult situation - he was drunk and in a violent state of mind,' he said from his home in Northwich, Cheshire. 'I acted in self defence, but I wish it had not happened. 'I have worked as a response officer since I started in the police seven-and-a-half years ago and I have been assaulted in the course of doing my job before. It's not always big blokes who attack you.'

PC Gaffney said his short time in prison in Liverpool was particularly difficult. 'Although I didn't speak to anybody, they knew who I was, so you can imagine the things they were shouting,' he said. 'It felt as though it was all happening to somebody else. I was just in shock. On one of the days my wife brought my son to visit, but they said they had to do a risk assessment first so I was unable to see him, which was hard.'

PC Gaffney's ordeal goes back to November last year when police were called to a children's home in Manchester. They arrested a boy and girl who had apparently drunk vodka on the premises and threatened staff with a fence post. The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was taken to the Elizabeth Slinger Road police station in West Didsbury, Manchester, and allocated a cell. But he became violent while being searched - which is when PC Gaffney punched him on the nose.

Moments after the alleged assault, a sergeant saw PC Gaffney telling the boy to sit up as he had blood pouring down his face. He had initially claimed the boy tripped and hit his face on the wall of the cell, a court heard. But a worker at the care home made a complaint the next day and PC Gaffney later confessed to punching the boy as he feared he was about to be assaulted.

A district judge found the officer guilty of assault after a two-day trial at Halton Magistrates' Court in August. He was cleared on appeal. PC Gaffney, who joined Greater Manchester Police in 2001, was given a formal warning for giving a false account of what had happened. But he will return to work in the New Year. 'I am looking forward to getting my career back on track again. I always wanted to be a policeman,' he said. Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: 'We are looking forward now to welcoming Daniel back to a job he loves and does well.'

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

No comments: