Horsham police officers appeared in court today (Thursday December 13) accused of assault by beating.
PCs Lucy Fenney, Natalie Jennings, Jacqueline Peel and Oliver Pullen and Sgt Chris O’Leary have all pleaded not guilty following the alleged offence at an address in Two Mile Ash Road, Barns Green, at 1.40am on June 25 last year.
The charges relate to alleged assaults which took place when the officers were making arrests, said a spokesperson for Sussex Police.
Brighton Magistrates’ Court heard today how James High and his brother Joshua High began to argue with a taxi driver over the amount owed after they were dropped off at their home in the village near Horsham.
All five officers responded to a 999 call at the address after they were told the taxi driver had been assaulted.
Lee Harris, prosecuting, said: “James and Joshua said the officers were immediately aggressive and one of the officers said to ‘pay the £27 now or you’re nicked’.
“James said to the officers ‘we’re going to close the door and start again’. He was prevented from doing so by two and then a third officer placing their feet in the door.”
He went on to explain how police used pepper spray against the brothers before a fight broke out - resulting in a number of injuries suffered by both parties.
“The spray blinded James,” he continued. “He said that he was grabbed and punched in the back and felt like he was being mugged from a number of officers.
“PC Peel then applies handcuffs to James which he describes as being very tight and causing injury. Sgt O’Leary then bent his arm back causing extreme pain and dragged him to a policeman. He was being abusive to him.”
All five officers deny the allegations.
The court only heard from one witness today - James High - and will hear from more tomorrow (Friday December 14).
Addressing James High, Stephen Collett, defending, said: “That night it was you committing a criminal offence, it was you who was aggressive to the driver and cheated him of this fare, it was you who was being abusive towards him and because of your behaviour the police had come. What happened to you is your own fault. You brought it on yourself and it’s grossly unfair that they [the officers] are sitting behind me and you [James] are sitting where you are.”
James High denies these claims.
All five were based with the Neighbourhood Response Team (NRT) in Horsham at the time and were responding to a 999 call.
Sgt O’Leary is now on the Neighbourhood Policing Team in Horsham. PCs Fenney, Jennings and Pullen remain on the NRT at Horsham. PC Peel is now based with the NRT at Gatwick. The force spokesperson made clear that ‘any changes in position were not related to this case’.
If found guilty they could be jailed for up to six months.
A spokesperson for Sussex Polcie added: “They have all pleaded not guilty following an alleged incident.”
The trial continues.