Page last updated Monday 22nd September at 0920hrs
A West Yorkshire Police sergeant accused of assaulting a suspected burglar in front of colleagues told a jury he believed his fellow officers had deliberately “fabricated” evidence against him. Craig Nicholls was on trial accused of “unlawfully and gratuitously” assaulting suspect Christopher Thrush and then contacting a young constable in a bid to “back up” his version of events.
The jury at Leeds Crown Court heard Nicholls kneed Mr Thrush so hard in the testicles that he was left doubled up in pain and wet himself. The attack is alleged to have happened in Hudson Road, Harehills, Leeds, where Nicholls was in charge of a team of officers. Giving evidence, Nicholls told the court he had kneed Mr Thrush but had aimed the blow at his inner thigh during the incident in the early hours of November 30, 2011.
PCs Philip Brewer and Johnny Frank later reported to their supervisors that they had seen Nicholls use unnecessary force on Mr Thrush. Nicholls told the court that he had kneed Mr Thrush before the officers arrived on the scene and did not use any force in their presence. Nicholls, of South Elmsall, near Pontefract, is also alleged to have contacted PC Katie Wyatt ten days later to claim his innocence and tell her he needed some to “back him up”.
He said: “I had two police officers saying that I had committed something unlawful and I was really scared and really upset and I was thinking, ‘Why would they say such a thing?’” Nicholls’ barrister, Tony Kelbrick (pictured top right) of No 6 Chambers in Leeds, asked: “Did you suggest how she might word her statement?” He replied: “No, definitely not.”
During cross examination, CPS barrister Richard Wright (pictured top left and from the same No 6 Chambers as Mr Kelbrick, defending barrister) asked: “You would say, I think, deliberately so, that they (PCs Brewer and Franks) fabricated this suggestion.” He replied: “Yes.” Referring to his phone call to PC Wyatt, Mr Wright said: “Is the context that you needed backing up because you had unlawfully assaulted Mr Thrush and you needed someone to back you. Nicholls replied: “That is definitely not correct.”
Nicholls had pleaded not guilty to assault and doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice. but a jury of ten women and two men took around two hours to find him not guilty after the trial at Leeds Crown Court concluded on February 27th February, 2013.
Nicholls wept with relief as he walked from the dock but after the hearing a West Yorkshire Police spokesman confirmed he now faces potential disciplinary proceedings. At the time of updating this page it is not known what the outcome of that disciplinary action against Nicholls was – or whether either PCs Brewer, Franks or Wyatt are also facing disciplinary action. The allegations by Nicholls against Brewer and Franks were very serious indeed and would end their career if proven.
uPSD can trace no Court disposal against Christopher Thrush in connection with the suspected offence for which he was detained.