Merseyside Police officers acquitted after case 'shambles'

Liverpool v Everton on 16 Jan 2011
Image caption The alleged incident happened before the Liverpool v Everton game on 16 Jan 2011

A judge has acquitted two Merseyside Police officers accused of covering up an alleged assault after branding the prosecution case a "shambles".

Five weeks into the trial of Det Sgt Gregory Symon and Det Con Christopher Sheron, Judge Anthony Russell QC said the case had "fallen apart".

A third police officer, Det Con Mark Scarratt, was also acquitted along with six other men.

Judge Russell described the main prosecution witness as "unimpressive".

The case at Preston Crown Court related to an alleged brawl between two sets of fans prior to the Everton v Liverpool match in January 2011.

Everton fans Mr Sheron, 43, and Mr Symon, 39, were alleged to have become involved in a fight at the King Harry pub near Anfield stadium during which the prosecution said Scott Wells was assaulted.

Both officers had denied allegations of perverting the course of justice.

Case 'torpedoed'

Mr Wells subsequently retracted his police statement and denied coming under any pressure to do so.

Judge Russell told the jury: "Wells's evidence as it emerged did indeed torpedo the prosecution case below the waterline."

Det Con Scarratt, 43, had denied a charge of misconduct in a public office.

It was alleged that while working in the same office as the officers investigating the brawl he had passed on confidential information about the case

But the judge said: "There is no case at all for him to answer. In my judgment he should not be criticised in any way for his actions - the trial has completely exonerated him."

Speaking after the trial, Mr Scarratt, a police officer for 20 years, said: "I'm extremely disappointed at the way I've been treated. It was wrong."

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said the two officers remained suspended from duties while an internal investigation into "potential misconduct" was carried out.

The other men who were acquitted on charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice were: Colin Stewart, 43, of Store Street, Bootle; Kevin Morland, 36, of Rosedale Road, Allerton; Niall Macklin, 21, of Layton Avenue, Prenton; John Nuttall, 45, of Warnerville Road, Old Swan; Christopher Hannon, 24, of Merlin Road, Prenton; Stephen Foster, 30, of Warbreck Road, Orrell Park.

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