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Long-standing Lincolnshire police officer cleared of assault

A long-serving Lincolnshire police officer who kicked a man in the face during an attempt to catch two robbers has been cleared of assault. Following a trial at Nottingham Crown Court, a jury took just a short time to find PC Alan Kirkwood not guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against Scott Barratt who was trying to assist the officer at the time he was kicked.

The jury heard how PC Kirkwood mistakenly thought Mr Barratt was one of the people he was trying to apprehend in Lincoln following a suspected robbery. After the foreman of the jury delivered the not guilty plea, Judge James Sampson said: “This was never going to not fail and is a decision which proves a failure to understand the instruction of an English jury by asking them to convict a man of exemplary character with 43 years serving in the police or the military acting in good faith and doing his public duty but who made a mistake.

“It is simply not fair play.” The trial heard how the incident took place on January 3, 2023, Dan Scothern, prosecuting, said Mr Barratt was walking his dogs with his girlfriend and when they got outside of their address and onto Danesgate, they noticed a police car parked up.

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The prosecutor said as they carried on on their walk, they watched 61-year-old PC Kirkwood run past them and then “have a scuffle with two males on a bike”. Mr Scothern, opening the trial earlier this week, said: “Mr Barratt considered for a moment with his girlfriend whether he should help the defendant, but by the time he turned back to the scuffle the defendant was on the floor.

“The two males made off, one on the bike in one direction, the other male running straight towards Mr Barratt. As he got closer, Mr Barratt shoulder barged that male, presumably in an attempt to assist the defendant in apprehending him, but nevertheless the male was able to get away.

“Mr Barratt found himself at the rear of the police car where it had been parked up. The defendant had run down in that direction, taser drawn, when he began screaming at Mr Barratt to get on the floor.

“Mr Barratt tried to explain that he was trying to help, and he was completely compliant in putting his arms out to the side, standing still, and going onto the ground, all while being red dotted and having a taser pointed at him. Then, the defendant swiftly went over to him and kicked him to the face.”

The prosecutor said PC Kirkwood “realised his error” and shortly after a brief interaction with Mr Barratt and his girlfriend he went with other officers, who by now had arrived, to continue with the pursuit. He said the defendant came back later and told Mr Barratt he made a mistake and apologised.

Mr Scothern said: “The defendant was interviewed on February 9, last year, with representation and in short, accepted having kicked Mr Barratt to the face, but he explained that by saying he had used what is known in the police force as a ‘distraction strike’, a move designed to avoid being assaulted and to gain compliance.”

In a statement released this morning, Friday, February 9, Lincolnshire police said: “Police Constable Alan Kirkwood, 61, based at Lincoln, was summoned to court in March 2023 for an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, following an incident in January 2023. He pleaded not guilty at a trial heard at Nottingham Crown Court and was cleared of the charge.

“As criminal proceedings are now concluded our internal misconduct procedures can be completed. PC Kirkwood was placed on non-operational duties following the charge.”

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