A Wigan man who called for police help when faced with a rampaging youth gang has been cleared of using threatening behaviour towards the officers attending the scene.
Paul King, who had been terrorised for months by yobs, rang 999 when several got into his home after dark.
Yet it was the 42-year-old who ended up spending a night in the cells after an altercation that is now subject to a police complaints probe.
Mr King was this week acquitted of a public order offence by Wigan magistrates, a decision that may pose further questions to Greater Manchester Police about its officers’ actions.
The court heard residents of Church Drive, Orrell, were having their “lives made a misery” by gangs repeatedly damaging property and acting in a threatening manner.
Mr King had borne the brunt of this since confronting one of the youths who had flicked a lit cigarette into the hair of an elderly lady.
He had made dozens of police calls to report damage to his car, bricks thrown at his house and threats shouted through the letterbox, the court heard.
On the evening of August 20, Mr King rang 999 when youths tried to get into his home. After they fled, PC Mangnall attended and spoke to the defendant, the prosecution alleging King was “irate” and “aggressive”, saying he would “sort this all out myself, you can’t do your job.” PC Mangnall said Mr King was “jumping in and out” of his home and resisting calls to calm down.
Prosecuting, Ellen Shaw said PC Mangnall and a PC Graham, who did not give evidence, returned to Church Drive after apprehending a suspect. The prosecution claimed Mr King threatened, using offensive language, to assault the youth in the police car, and moved toward the vehicle leading officers to feel threatened for their and the youth’s safety.
It was at this point, PC Mangnall said, he punched King in the face and PC Graham grappled him to the ground. He was arrested for causing a breach of the peace.
Defending, Andrea Woods said criminal charges were later lodged against her client after he made a formal complaint about alleged unjustified violence causing him serious injury and distress.
King denied using the offensive language detailed by the officers and acting aggressively. He had looked into the police vehicle to identify whether they had caught one of the gang members who had previously damaged his car, he said.
He said he sustained broken ribs during the fracas and one stomach blow had caused mesh placed during a previous hernia surgery to tear. He claims PC Graham told him when he was on the floor held by the three officers: “You’re not so ******* big now, are you lad?”
Three defence witnesses said they felt the officers’ conduct to be unjustified although Ms Shaw highlighted inconsistencies between their court testimony and police statements about whether he was aggressive.
Mrs Woods in turn questioned why PC Mangnall’s statement had referred to King being “very irate” when he arrived at the home, not “aggressive” as he told the court. The court heard King had previously admitted to one charge of possessing an offensive weapon relating to when he walked to a shop with a baseball bat seeking the officers to tell them some of the youths had returned.
He said the bat for protection and he did not realise he was committing an offence.
Ms Shaw highlighted that King had been examined by a doctor at the police station but was not sent to hospital, suggesting his injuries were not as serious as he claimed.
Ms Woods said if King had been acting as police said when they arrived, he would have been arrested or at least warned about his behaviour then but he was not.
In clearing Mr King, the bench said they found PC Mangnall’s evidence credible and consistent and that the three officers who restrained him had used “appropriate levels of force”. But it was not proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mr King had acted in the way set out by the prosecution.
Mr King, who will be sentenced next month for the offensive weapon charge, said after the hearing that his decision to complain had been vindicated.