Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lothian & Borders Chief Constable to be sued for 'injuries' after court clears brothers

An interesting story from the Scotsman’s stable mate – the Edinburgh Evening News on a report where two brothers, cleared of charges including Police assault, are to sue the Chief Constable of Lothian & Borders Police for injuries sustained during their ‘arrest’.

The Evening News reports :

Millionaire brothers to sue police for injuries

Published Date: 13 December 2008
By Alan McEWEN

TWO millionaire property tycoons are to sue Lothian Chief Constable David Strang after being cleared of charges including police assault.

Patrick and Hugh Hegarty spoke of their 18-month "nightmare" after being found not guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday.

The Irish brothers were charged following a house-warming party at Patrick's luxury flat in the New Town's Wemyss Place in June last year, when bottles of water were allegedly thrown from the building's roof.

Police claimed in court that the men later resisted arrest and struggled with officers, and that Hugh Hegarty also punched an officer in the face.

Patrick, 47, and Hugh, 45, of Victoria Park, Londonderry, denied charges of culpable and reckless conduct, breach of the peace, resisting arrest and assault.

And key to their case was camera footage, lasting 25 seconds, shot by Hugh Hegarty.

Finding the brothers not guilty, Sheriff Johnston said the video evidence had been "crucial".

The brothers have already lodged a civil action against the police and are seeking "substantial damages" following their ordeal and repayment of their £70,000 legal costs.

Police today said they could not comment on the matter as they had not yet received a complaint.

Patrick Hegarty said: "Whilst hugely relieved that justice has been done, our overwhelming emotion is anger that our family and friends have been dragged through this nightmare.

"The testimony given by several police officers in this case was fatally undermined only because we had video evidence.

"His brother added: "We received extensive injuries at the hands of the police, and we will be pursuing a substantial damages case against Lothian and Borders Police as a matter of urgency.

"The trial of the brothers began in April, with hearings in June and August, and restarted on Wednesday of this week.

The court heard that trouble flared after two officers, constables Scott McGregor and William Telford, spotted bottles being thrown from the roof of the New Town flat at around 5.30am on June 1 last year.

Pc Nicola Patterson was among other officers called to help.

The brothers came down to the foyer, where police alleged that they refused to give their names and addresses and committed a breach of the peace.

In his evidence, Hugh Hegarty said that when his brother was being taken to a police car in handcuffs, he followed with a camera and began recording.

The developer said he was approached by Pc Paterson, who demanded that he stop. When he refused, she forcibly tried to take the camera off him.

Mr Hegarty said that he managed to break free and was running back to the house when he was tripped by pursuing officers. He said the officers knelt on him, with one grabbing his ear and bashing his head on the ground.

Giving evidence, Patrick Hegarty said officers grabbed him by the back of his head and smashed his face on the car roof. His teeth bridge work was destroyed and a witness told the court of seeing him lying in a pool of blood.

The court had been shown pictures of injuries to both brothers and their blood-stained clothing.

The Hegarty family own property development firm WG Mitchell. It has built up a £500 million mixed portfolio with acquisitions such as the Point Hotel in Edinburgh, according to reports.

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