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Tonbridge Police Station custody sergeant explains why he punched and kicked drunk detainee

A custody sergeant has explained why he punched and kicked a drunk man in his cell.

Det Sgt Melwyn Moore, who ran with the Olympic torch in 2012, was custody manager at Tonbridge Police Station in New Year's Eve 2016.

Det Sgt Melwyn Moore with the Olympic torch in 2012 Picture: Roger Vaughan
Det Sgt Melwyn Moore with the Olympic torch in 2012 Picture: Roger Vaughan

The 55-year-old, who joined Kent Police in 1994, is facing seven allegations of misconduct, including one relating to kicking a detainee in the chest and another relating to a Facebook post he made after the incident.

A misconduct panel heard yesterday two officers entered the cell of Jamie Johnson after concerns when he made a choking motion to an in-cell camera.

Mr Johnson had been arrested in Tunbridge Wells on an allegation of being drunk and disorderly.

CCTV footage appeared to show him lunge toward Det Sgt Moore, after he entered the cell.

During the incident Det Sgt Moore fell and hit his head on a cell wall. It’s alleged he then kicked Mr Johnson who was continuing to resist.

Tonbridge Police Station
Tonbridge Police Station

Det Sgt Moore said he had no recollection of the kick, but upon seeing CCTV of the incident he said it was a "distraction" technique.

He told the panel: "You're taught a number of set manoeuvres at officer safety training. It's to buy some time for another manoeuvre, say to be put in an arm lock."

Footage played to the court appeared to show Mr Johnson bite the veteran officer on the shin.

Det Sgt Moore told other officers "he's biting me," before punching Johnson three times in the head.

Det Sgt Moore said he used "full force" for each punch. There is no allegation of misconduct in relation to the punches.

He explained: "You're taught to use full force if you're subject to an assault. He was biting me at the time, when he released his grip I stopped punching him."

Once Mr Johnson was restrained he was placed in handcuffs and left face down on the floor of the cell.

The panel heard there was a risk of positional asphyxia. Det Sgt Moore said: "I accept that was an error of judgment. Had I decided to keep him in handcuffs for his own safety I should have increased his observation levels."

Following the incident the senior officer posted a picture of his head injury on his personal Facebook page, writing: “Enjoy your day in the cells scumbag. I’ll see you in court.”

Det Sgt Moore accepted the post amounted to a breach of discreditable conduct.

He faces other allegations of misconduct in relation to failing to read Mr Johnson his rights, failing to carry out a risk assessment and being discourteous and rude when booking the person into custody,

Mr Johnson previously told investigators: "I didn't feel like I was being arrested. I felt like I was being beaten up. I just thought they were taking out their anger on me, they wanted to remove the jacket and beat me up. Not just take the jacket."

Mr Johnson was charged with being drunk and disorderly and two counts of assaulting a constable, including DS Moore, but the case was dismissed in 2017.

The misconduct hearing continues today.

Read more: All the latest news Tonbridge.

Read more: All the latest news Tunbridge Wells.

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