Officer cleared of sexual assault

Published Date: 26.10.2018

A police officer accused of sexual assault by a woman he arrested for drink driving has been cleared following an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s office.

Three other officers were also cleared of allegations ranging from assault to failure in duty.
The complaints were made after the woman was arrested at her Belfast home on suspicion of drink driving.

The woman, who alleged the arresting officer had put his hands up her hoodie, pushed up her bra and touched her inappropriately, also accused a female officer of grabbing her hood and trailing her to the floor after she was placed in a police Land Rover.

She accused another female officer of running towards the Land Rover and kneeing her in the ribs, holding her down with her knee, grabbing her by the throat and making threats.

Officers were also cleared of having acted inappropriately by refusing her a drink and the use of a toilet while in custody.

Woman said she had fear of needles, but had a tattoo.

A further complaint that the arresting officer had tried to provoke her by insisting on a blood sample despite her fear of needles, was also dismissed when CCTV footage from the custody suite showed the Forensic Medical Officer pointing out her tattoo, thus rejecting her phobia claim.

As part of their investigation, Police Ombudsman staff examined all relevant police documentation and photographs of the woman’s injuries, and took statements from a relative and officers at the scene. A CCTV check and a witness appeal letter drop were also carried out.

The family member and the four police officers in attendance at the scene all stated that she had resisted arrest and there was a violent struggle. The witnesses did say that during attempts to get the woman into the Land Rover that her top had risen up but none said they had seen anyone touch her inappropriately.

The woman’s complaint regarding being refused a drink was rejected as liquids are not permitted prior to an evidential breath test, which she was required to take after being arrested for drunk driving.

Another claim that police had damaged the woman’s car was dismissed as she had previously reported damage to the windscreen, and had been recorded on CCTV footage at the custody suite agreeing that the car had been damaged before her arrest.

As sexual assault and assault allegations are potential criminal offences, a file had also been submitted to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS). The PPS directed that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute any of the officers in relation to the claims.

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