A man who received a dose of pepper spray, brought to the ground and tossed into a police van in front of his children has won a settlement in the amount of £35,000. The officers also allegedly called him a “paedo” in front of his kids.
48-year-old Mr. Paul Ponting feels “vindicated” with the award following a long 4-year uphill battle with Lancashire Constabulary.
Shocking footage taken after his arrest show Ponting refusing to don a “paper suit” after a strip search. The search was conducted at Skelmersdale Police Station in Lancashire.
Authorities deemed it fit to not fight the suit for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, assault and malicious prosecution claiming officers did not comport themselves in a favorable and ethical manner. The officers’ conduct tarnished the profession as well as the case leaving room for the lawsuit.
The Lancashire Constabulary confirmed that the lawsuit was settled sans liability. This allowed the constabulary to avoid admitting to any wrong-doing despite an apology issued by the group.
The ordeal began for Ponting when he was received a dose of pepper spray and then arrested by police after an altercation with a former employee. That employee, Paul Turner, was reported by Ponting to the police for harassment. The officers did nothing and Ponting eventually took it upon himself to deal with Turner.
Ponting’s arrest had him so befuddled he was rushed to the hospital because he was suffering from chest pains.
The two officers named in the suit, Sergeant Hayes and PC Ward, went to Ponting’s home at 10:30pm on June 18, 2014. The officers told Ponting that his former employee was no longer under investigation and that nothing of significance turned up.
Ponting took the news poorly and a heated argument ensued. During the argument and subsequent struggle, Ponting suffered cuts and bruises from being dragged along the rough cell ground.
Notes recorded by Chorley magistrates, who acquitted Mr Ponting of assaulting Sgt Hayes, stated there was no evidence that an arrest was required.
The magistrates said:
“The officer, when the struggle between himself and the claimant occurred, was not acting in the execution of his duty as the officer did not have reasonable grounds for believing that he must immediately arrest the claimant, as the claimant’s behavior was not threatening.”
There were also claims that Ponting was treated very poorly at the Skelmersdale Police Station.
“Within a minute of the claimant’s arrival in the custody suite, Custody Sergeant Sigley directed that the claimant should be taken to a cell in order to “calm down” and also authorized officers to strip search the claimant,” the file said.
“On being taken to the cell, the claimant was held down by four officers and subjected to an intimate strip search… the claimant was left naked in the cell with a paper suit.
Officer PS Eckersely reportedly processed Ponting, called him a “paedo”, and touched the claimant’s anus.
Ponting was later charged with assaulting an officer who arrested him and harassing another officer and public order offenses. All the charges were dismissed follow a trial at Chorley Magistrates’ Court. The bench even went so far as to criticize the arresting officer in the case.
According to Ponting, the stress from the whole ordeal has given him an addiction to medication.
“I have always said I’m not anti-police; I’m anti-police corruption. It has never been about money. People have this view of the police that they are always right and they are never wrong, and don’t get me wrong…. But they do have a great job in a lot of areas. But they are not perfect and they can be pretty evil when they want.”
Lancashire Police have until the 10th of Oct to issue an apology letter containing these exact words:
“The chief constable wishes to apologize to you for the way the incident was handled. The chief constable hopes now your action against the force has been settled. You will be able to regain your health, and in time, your faith in Lancashire Constabulary