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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Security staff called into Canterbury Crown Court after co-defendants round on ex-policeman Matthew Edwards in affray case

27 January 2014
by Paul Hooper

Three men – who have admitted causing an affray – turned on their policeman pal in the dock at Canterbury Crown Court.

The four were due to be sentenced for their part in a fracas at a party– which involved the use of weapons.

But as the sentencing hearing was due to start, disgraced police officer Matthew Edwards, 26, claimed he had only asked the three to give him a lift away from the party.

The trial is being heard at Canterbury Crown Court

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That led to shouts and threats as security officers were summoned to the dock in Court Seven to keep order.

Later Edwards’ counsel, Matthew Lawson, told Judge James O’Mahony that one of the men had burst into a room where he was taking instructions.

Even as a new sentencing date was being discussed by lawyers – threats could be heard from the dock.

Mr Lawson told the judge: “There has been less than sotto voce mumbling and threats of violence towards Mr Edwards.

“I was later in conference with my client when one of the other defendants stormed in and started making threats.”

Edwards, 26, of Trevale Road, Rochester has been sacked from the police force after an investigation into the incident in December 2012.

He was warned that he faced a jail sentence after the four all admitted charges of affray.

Sentence had originally been adjourned for the preparation of probation reports – but now Judge O’Mahony has ordered a “Newton Hearing” – a no-jury trial – to decide the basis of Edwards’ plea.

“I was later in conference with my client when one of the other defendants stormed in and started making threats” - Matthew Lawson, defending Edwards

Mark Toulson, 26, of Nares Road, Jason Cole, 29, of Longfellow Road and Ross Mitchell, 31, of Arden Street, all Gillingham, will now be sentenced later.

The incident in Gillingham, part of which was caught on CCTV, was sparked by an allegation about the theft of a watch, the court heard.

Prosecutor Dominic Connolly said: “The Crown accepts that there was some form of physical altercation involving Edwards and another or others which was the catalyst for what happened.

“We also accept that a watch was lost, Edwards claims that it was stolen.

"He made a call to Mitchell to assist him, and not as he later claimed, to collect him.

“It is also clear from CCTV that Coles and Toulson both carried hammers.

"Mitchell went into the premises with his hands in his pockets but came out carrying what is clearly a tool, which an officer thought was a pair of pliers. Mitchell says it was a mallet,” he added.

Mr Connolly said: “All four entered the lounge in offensive mode.

"The Crown cannot say who did what to whom. But it was a joint enterprise and blows were struck and at least one person was injured because of the use of a hammer.

“The violence also continued out into the garden. Mitchell says he had the mallet for defensive purposes but the Crown don’t accept that.

"We say it was for offensive purposes,” he said.

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