Tees

Peterlee 'torture' officers fined for David Healer attack

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe officers must each pay £50 in compensation

Police staff whose attack on a prisoner was described as "torture" have been ordered to pay him £100 compensation.

Sgt Stephen Harvey, 50, and civilian detention officer Michael Mount, 61 used unlawful force on David Healer in County Durham, in March 2011.

Harvey and Mount were each convicted at Teesside Magistrates' Court in March of the attack at Peterlee police station.

Their attack was condemned as a form of torture by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Mr Healer said he now intends to pursue a claim for compensation for injuries to his spine, which he said he received during the attack.

Requested doctor

Harvey was told to pay £1,395 in fines and costs for his role in the attack, while Mount was told to pay a total of £730. The men were both convicted of two counts of common assault.

Footage of the incident showed Harvey twisting Mr Healer's arm behind his back as Mount held his other arm.

He was then grabbed by both wrists across the custody suite desk by both defendants after repeatedly refusing to answer questions.

DIY shop boss Mr Healer, 48 and from Seaham, was in the public gallery during the hearing.

The 48-year-old, of Seaham, County Durham, an angina sufferer who has recently been in hospital, told the trial he thought he would die in the attack.

He is repeatedly heard requesting a doctor on the footage.

The court heard his attackers had exemplary professional records and their behaviour was described as being out of character.

Harvey, of Chester-le-Street, and Mount, of Thornley, both County Durham, argued that they used reasonable force to restrain Mr Healer, who had been arrested on suspicion of breaching bail conditions and assaulting a police officer.

Image caption The incident happened at Peterlee police station in March 2011

'Unblemished character gone'

Sentencing both men, Oliver Johnson, chair of the bench, said: "The greater punishment you will have received today is not the fine but the fact that your position in society will be severely downgraded in a bad way.

"Your unblemished character has gone."

Speaking outside court after the sentencing, father-of-six Mr Healer said he was happy with the outcome.

He said: "It's a shame that two people have ruined their careers over this. As far as I'm concerned, it's over now."

Deputy Chief Constable Mike Barton, of Durham Police, said the excessive force used by the two staff members was wrong and should not have happened.

"On this occasion, our professional standards were not upheld," he said outside court. "This was clearly a case where there has been a use of excessive force.

"We process around 20,000 people a year and, in the vast majority of these cases, there are no issues."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites