There were dramatic scenes at Oxford Magistrates Court yesterday as Deputy District Judge Peter Greenfield invoked the common law to sentence a police officer for assaulting a prisoner in custody. Sergeant Mark Andrews has been convicted in July of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against 59 year old Pamela Somerville, who had been arrested because she had spent the night in her car. The court had heard how he had dragged her by her wrists across the floor of a police station in Wiltshire before throwing her into a cell with a concrete floor, causing her to sustain injuries to her face which have required surgery.
The judge said he was appalled at the way Andrews had behaved and was critical of two police officers who had given evidence for him denying the assault, even though the whole incident had been captured on CCTV at the station.
He said that the 6 month sentence he was handing down was totally inadequate for the circumstances, since Andrews had been suspended on full pay during the court proceedings and would only serve half the sentence. Therefore, invoking a little-known and rarely-used common law principle from the 13th century which allows a court to meet out extra punishment that is more befitting to the crime and which reflects the norms of the day, he ordered that Andrews be pelted with shoes by an angry mob of Muslims, dumped in a trash can, have his phone hacked and receive an extra tax bill.
He explained his reasoning, saying "It is now accepted that people who are responsible for abusing those in their custody, like George Bush was, get pelted with shoes. It should be easy to find an angry Muslim mob in this day and age. You will be dumped in a trash can like the poor cat we all read about, because you are filth and that is what happens to filth. Your phone will be hacked so that you can never be sure if you might be brought before the court again to answer for some further crime. Finally, you will be sent an extra tax bill like one and a half million other people in this country because you should have been sacked on the spot rather than being put on garden leave on full pay."
The sentence was received positively by anti-police protesters outside court. Ms Somerville praised the judge for his common sense.