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Thursday, November 18, 2010 

Mark Andrews, Pamela Somerville and successful appeals against convictions for assault.

What then does the case of Sergeant Mark Andrews and Pamela Somerville tell us about the ingredients needed for a successful appeal against a conviction for assault? Firstly, it seems, you need to find a judge with a similar field of vision to Mr. Magoo. This requires a huge amount of luck. Second, the judge also has to be prepared to give the police officer more than the usual amount of the benefit of the doubt. Third, err, that's it.

Here's the curious thing. When Andrews was first convicted it seems that most if not all of the news reports and videos posted of the incident were edited to show only Somerville being thrown into the cell the once. In fact, as the video on the BBC's report shows, Andrews threw her into the cell on two separate occasions, nearly an hour apart from one another. On the first occasion she was pushed all the way to the back of the cell without sustaining any injuries, after trying to get out of the cell; it was on the second, having apparently left the cell again when Andrews effectively threw her face down onto the floor and then shut the door.

Curiouser still is that Mr Justice Bean apparently believed the claims made by Andrews' defence that the whole incident was an accident, with Somerville only being injured after she "suddenly let go" of the cell door frame. Anyone with a pair of eyes can quite plainly see from the video that the two of them were well within the cell when Andrews, who also clearly has a full hold on her, throws her dangerously onto the floor. It almost makes you wonder whether the case has been accurately reported, although both the BBC and the Guardian have much the same account in their separate stories, both of which seem to have been based on the Press Association original. The Daily Mail could be expected to be sympathetic having bought Somerville's story and also likely to have a reporter in the court, yet their account doesn't have the judge accepting Andrews' argument. Surely the judge must have seen the full video, and didn't confuse the first time she was thrown into the cell with the second?

Whatever the case, his other comment which all agree on is that he told Andrews he "could have handled it better", which is more than something of an understatement. If Somerville was drunk as Mr Justice Bean apparently accepted, it was even more important that Andrews didn't throw her about like a rag doll. You do have to sympathise with Andrews in that she was being uncooperative and more than a little trying in leaving the cell repeatedly (arguably something she was fully entitled to be considering she claims she didn't know what she had been arrested for and also taking into account that being asleep in your car, even if you are drunk, is hardly the most heinous offence), yet the way in he dragged her across to the cell alone showed that he was hardly being as careful as he could have been; she could have sprained her wrist or worse simply through the way in which he held her arm. He doubtless didn't intend to hurt her when he threw to the floor that second time, yet his exasperation could have resulted in worse injuries if she had fully hit her head against the concrete floor, as so easily could have happened.

I wrote at the time that I thought a six-month sentence was harsh, and stand by that. A community sentence, fine, or even a conditional discharge would have been more than punishment enough alongside potentially losing his job. Considering his acquittal, the assumption now has to be that he won't even lose that as he was suspended on full pay the entire time, perhaps getting a formal warning about his future conduct. Some might think that was all that ever should have happened, and that the CPS were overzealous in seeking a prosecution. By any objective measure, what happened, especially if we were to turn the tables and it was a police officer being thrown to the ground, was a possible assault where a jury or judge should have decided whether there was a case to answer. Andrews was a in a position of authority over a drunk woman who was in his care, and at best he allowed his temper to get the better of him and dangerously threw her against the floor. In that sense, his successful appeal looks like a travesty of justice.

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Thank you for telling the truth about this BAD COP and EVIL man.

I'd like to see Ms. Somerville get justice. I'd also like to see that rogue, lying cop get justice also.

What's the matter with the people of England and why is the Queen divorced from ordering that justice be served?

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