PC cleared of assault in Truro feared for his career
By Truro People | Thursday, January 27, 2011, 09:00
AN ASSAULT case against a long-serving police officer was thrown out of court after the judge agreed his accuser’s claims could not be trusted.
The two-day trial of PC Richard Mantle was abandoned after a few hours when District Judge Paul Farmer said the evidence of alleged victim Laura Jane Hodges and her friends, Sophie Louise Green, Sammie-Jo Green and Travis Hughes, had been “tenuous, inconsistent and selective”.
In the private prosecution brought by Miss Hodges at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court, he agreed with PC Mantle’s solicitor, Jeremy Leaning, who submitted that there was “no case to answer” over the incident, which followed her arrest in Calenick Street, Truro, in the early hours of February 9 last year.
After solicitor Terry Eastwood set out the prosecution case, including the four witnesses giving personal accounts, Mr Leaning said it was “inconsistent, contrary, contradictory and inherently weak”. The judge also pointed out that Miss Hodges’ claims changed between her initial police interview and the trial and awarded costs from court funds to PC Mantle, 43, of Melville Road, Threemilestone, and the witnesses.
Miss Hodges, of Malabar Road, Truro, had alleged PC Mantle put his hand around her throat and pinned her down in the back of her friend’s car. She said she bit him as she was unable to breathe.
There was no dispute that Miss Hodges’ arrest had been lawful. She was charged and convicted of a public order offence but acquitted of assaulting PC Mantle.
Mr Leaning said PC Mantle was trying to calm the situation after Miss Hodges shouted and swore in the street and clearly resisted arrest, meaning he was entitled to use force. PC Mantle suffered two bite wounds to his arm which it “would not have been humanly possible to inflict” with his hands around her neck. She was restrained across her collarbone, said Mr Leaning, and showed no visible neck injury, despite claiming she had been held for two minutes.
Mr Farmer, dismissing the case, said the witnesses all had “somewhat differing views of what occurred”. Miss Hodges and Mr Hughes had been drinking and he had to be pepper-sprayed during his intervention in the incident.
Mr Farmer added that there were some “surprising differences” between what she had said at interview and what she told the court.
Referring to CCTV footage of the incident, Mr Farmer said: “It was quite clear she (Hodges) had a lot to say for herself.”