PC appeals jail for assaulting gang victim

A POLICE officer was jailed for assaulting the victim of a gang attack and then cooking up evidence against him.

Appeal judges in Edinburgh heard yesterday that PC Thomas Clark, 41, had answered a 999 call in Milngavie. James Carrie said his car and his home in Dumbrock Road, Milngavie, had been attacked by a group of people.

But minutes later, Mr Carrie found himself forced to the ground, handcuffed and thrown into a police van.

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An earlier trial at Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard that Clark then put together a "misleading" report on the incident with the intention of justifying his strong-arm tactics and accusing Mr Carrie of committing a breach of the peace.

Mr Carrie was later offered a fiscal fine as a result - but no charges were ever brought.

After Clark was found guilty of assault and perverting the course of justice, Sheriff William Dunlop sentenced him to three months in prison. Also in the dock with Clark - who has 15 years' police service - was Andrew Glover, 29, who at the time had been with the Strathclyde force for only three months after his time as a probationary constable had ended.

He was fined 1,000 for assaulting Neil McCallum during the same incident in February 2008, seizing him by the arm and marching him to a police vehicle when he protested about the way Mr Carrie was being treated.

Mr Clark's appeal was heard yesterday at the Court of Justiciary Appeal in Edinburgh.

In his report to the Court of Appeal, Sheriff Dunlop said the constables had tarnished the reputation of Strathclyde Police and left them facing possible claims for damages.

"The readiness of members of the public to come forward to assist them will have been diminished," he said.

"They have let down that same public who were entitled to look to them for protection."

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The sheriff continued: "Clark compounded things by submitting a report that was a concoction of exaggeration and lies. That report was a perversion of justice. It struck at the heart of justice. Unlike the assault, it could not even be suggested it was prepared in the heat of the moment."

But yesterday, defence QC Paul McBride told Lord Osborne, sitting with Lords Bonomy and Marnoch, that the sheriff had got it wrong and accused him of using "intemperate" language.

Mr McBride said Sheriff Dunlop had found the two constables guilty of assaults because, he concluded, they had made false arrests. But, the lawyer claimed, he had failed to consider the possibility of an honest mistake.

In his hard-hitting report, Sheriff Dunlop says Mr Carrie was "experiencing emotions of anger, upset and distress" when Glover first spoke to him.

"There was no threat to the public peace other than that resulting from the behaviour of the police," noted the sheriff.During the incident, Mr McCallum complained several times to the police about their behaviour and was arrested himself.

The appeal judges are due to hear further legal argument before giving their ruling. No date has been fixed.

Clark is on bail pending the outcome of the appeal.