Police detention officers found guilty of assaulting prisoner

Detention officer Michael Mount and Durham police officer Sgt Stephen Harvey
Detention officer Michael Mount and Durham police officer Sgt Stephen Harvey
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TWO police detention officers face misconduct procedures after being found guilty of using unnecessary force on an arrested man.

Sergeant Stephen Harvey, 50, and civilian detention officer Michael Mount, 61, were each found guilty of two counts of assault against David Healer, 48, at Peterlee Police Station, after a two-day trial.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Healer, who is from Seaham, was “uncooperative” during questioning. Mount and Harvey were accused of assaulting him to get him to answer questions, on March 5 last year.

CCTV footage showed Harvey place Mr Healer in an armlock when he failed to answer admittance procedure questions, while Mount held his other arm across the desk.

The second charge arose from Harvey pulling Mr Healer’s arm across the counter and twisting it three times while Mount again held it down.

They claimed they were acting accordingly in the circumstances.

Harvey said he used the initial armlock as Mr Healer was acting aggressively and used force in the second instance because he was concerned he was falling into unconsciousness.

But chairman of the magistrates’ bench, Oliver Johnson, finding guilty verdicts, found “unlawful force had been used”.

He said: “Mr Healer, on the CCTV footage, shows no sign of threat whilst he is unwilling or unable to stand.”

Harvey, of Chester-le-Street, and Mount, of Thornley, will be sentenced next month, after each being found guilty of two counts of battery.

Both were granted unconditional bail.

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “I consider it completely unacceptable and it could be argued their actions amounted to a form of torture.”

Superintendent Darren Ellis, head of Durham Constabulary’s Professional Standards Department, said the force “expects the highest standards of professional behaviour from all officers and staff”.

“When this behaviour is suspected of falling below that level, we aim to take effective action.”