Police ‘torture’ pair face sentence

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TWO members of police staff who assaulted a prisoner in what was condemned as “a form of torture” were due to be sentenced today.

Police custody sergeant Stephen Harvey twisted DIY shop boss David Healer’s arm behind his back so he would answer questions as civilian Detention Officer (CDO) Michael Mount looked on.

Mount, 61, also grabbed and twisted the Seaham shopkeeper’s arm in the “sad and astonishing” incident, Independent Police Complaints Commission investigators said.

Mr Healer, 48, told Teesside Magistrates he thought he would die in the attack at Peterlee Police Station, County Durham, last March.

Harvey, 50, of Fenwick Close, Chester-le-Street, and Mount, of Dunelm Road, Thornley, argued they had used reasonable force to restrain Mr Healer, who had been arrested on suspicion of breaching bail conditions.

But magistrates rejected claims he had been aggressive while in custody during the trial.

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “A detained person is not under obligation to answer questions.

“It would appear Sgt Harvey and CDO Mount had forgotten this and decided it was necessary to try to gain compliance through the use of force.

“It is sad and frankly astonishing that in the 21st century experienced members of the police service believed inflicting pain as a way of eliciting responses to questions was acceptable.

“I consider it completely unacceptable and it could be argued their actions amounted to a form of torture.”

l Details of the sentence will appear on www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk later today