Special constable jailed for Wigan ex-soldier attack

A Greater Manchester Police special constable convicted of assaulting an off-duty soldier and lying about the attack has been jailed for three years.

Peter Lightfoot, 40, was filmed hitting Mark Aspinall while attempting to arrest him after he had been thrown out of a Wigan club last July.

In the footage, he can be seen punching the ex-soldier repeatedly in the back as he holds his head on the ground.

Lightfoot was convicted of assault and perjury last month.

He was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court.

Two other officers involved in the incident, Sergeant Stephen Russell, 34, and Pc Richard Kelsall, 29, were cleared of assaulting the soldier.

Image caption Lightfoot won a Special Constable of the Year award in 2003

Mr Aspinall, 24, a former lance corporal, was initially himself found guilty of assaulting Lightfoot and the other two officers but the conviction was quashed on appeal.

Lightfoot was convicted of one count of perjury, in relation to the evidence he gave during the soldier's trial.

He was jailed for one year for perjury, and two years for assault, to run consecutively.

Lightfoot resigned from his role as special constable following his conviction.

The court heard how the father-of-two had been given a warning about using excessive force during an arrest in 2007.

But he was also nominated for a bravery award for confronting a robber who was wielding an imitation handgun in the same year and won a Special Constable of the Year award in 2003.

The court was told how police were called to the Walkabout bar in Wigan town centre where it was claimed Mr Aspinall had caused a disturbance when he shouted racial abuse at door staff after he was thrown out.

The trial also heard that Mr Aspinall obstructed paramedics who attempted to treat a woman who had collapsed.

Judge Jeffrey Lewis said Lightfoot used "unacceptable" force when making the arrest.

"You abused your position of trust and power and inflicted unlawful violence upon him," he said.

The judge rejected a claim for compensation for Mr Aspinall.

Speaking after the sentencing, Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: "The judge's sentence today is a reflection of how serious this abuse of trust was.

"The conduct of Peter Lightfoot that day fell well below the standard we expect at Greater Manchester Police.

"His actions in no way reflect the committed and professional attitude shown by the vast majority of our special constables, who are highly trained in the best ways to safely detain prisoners."

He added: "Our Professional Standards Branch has carried out a thorough investigation, under the management of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and this was recognised today by the judge.

"Lightfoot has now resigned from Greater Manchester Police, and the two officers who were found not guilty in this case remain on restricted duties, pending the outcome of an internal investigation."

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