Preston judge sentences GMP police officer who tasered Manchester man three times

A police officer who "lost his temper" and tasered an agitated man repeatedly has been ordered to pay him £250 compensation after admitting assault.

By Stef Hall
Friday, 10th September 2021, 1:09 pm

The case of GMP officer Phillip Ashley Smith, 46, had to be heard in Preston and sentenced by a Preston judge for legal reasons.

Preston Crown Court was told at 9.30am on June 17, 2018, PC Smith attended an address in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, to concerns a man was suicidal.

His own body cam footage showed him trying to speak to the man and telling him to lie down and cooperate, before pointing the taser at him and eventually discharging his Taser three times as the man became abusive.

Crown Court

The victim, Jack Gavin, 29, is shown screaming as the taser barbs attach to him and deliver a shock.

Prosecutors say while the officer acted lawfully the first time, the last two discharges were "unlawful" and excessive.

Mr Gavin, who was left lying on the lawn, was taken to hospital as a precaution and had suffered small wounds from the barbs on his chest.

The court heard since the incident he had continued to work on restricted duties, though not armed with a taser, and following a probe by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) he was summonsed to court last June.

Prosecuting, Matthew Conway said the incident began lawfully but ended unlawfully.

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He played footage showing the officers at the top of the stairs trying to speak to Mr Gavin before the incident unfolds.

Defending, Nicholas Clarke QC said PC Smith, a married father, had joined the force later in life after being a mechanic, and had "served the community faithfully.

He said during his 12 year police career he had been given awards for bravery, and that he had wanted to prevent the incident being a suicide.

He added: " He specifically wanted me to tell the court he wore his uniform with pride and it is his intention to continue to do that, he does wish to continue in the police service. It is his ambition to continue to serve the people of Greater Manchester."he also said the incident had been used to 'improve the knowledge of other police' as the other officers were not "Taser aware".

Judge Simon Medland QC said the defendant had conducted himself perfectly properly to begin with in the scope of his responsibilities, but went "somewhat beyond that" and was unlawful by the end.

Imposing an 18 month conditional discharge, £250 costs and £250 compensation, he said: "On that day you in the discharge of your duty attended at a house because you had been informed that a man in the house may have hanged himself.

"In order to help him you went to the house. It quickly became apparent however that that was innocent misinformation."

He accepted Gavin's behaviour was " tiresome, stroppy and threatening" and that his behaviour was physically aggressive and added: " I have no doubt because of your character and your desire to help people that you were affronted by that and felt your time was being wasted.. In my view you lost your temper."

He will face disciplinary proceedings but hopes to continue to "serve the public" as a police officer.

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