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Police officers stand trial in Dundee accused of assault and perjury

Dundee Sheriff Court.
Dundee Sheriff Court.

The trial has begun in Dundee of two police officers accused of assaulting a Fife man and lying about it in court.

Steven Harker and Gordon Butchart are accused of assaulting Michael Wallace while they arrested him at his Dunfermline home.

Prosecutors claim they seized him by the body, threw him onto a couch, choked him, and repeatedly stabbed him on the body with a key or keys.

They are accused of kneeing him on the body and striking his head against a wall, to his injury.

Harker is accused of seizing Mr Wallace’s then-partner Catherine Dolan on the body on the same day.

Both Harker, 36, and Butchart, 31, deny the alleged assaults, said to have happened on November 15 in 2018.

The two officers, whose addresses are listed as Police Scotland’s Professional Standards Department in Glasgow, are also accused of lying in court when Mr Wallace stood trial.

It is alleged both police officers gave evidence as witnesses and said Mr Wallace deliberately headbutted a wall when, in fact, they knowingly assaulted him.

Witness claims he was ‘grabbed’ by police

Mr Wallace, 33, gave evidence before the Dundee Sheriff Court on Tuesday and explained police had shown up at his door in Willowbank Brae between 8am and 9am to execute a warrant.

He had been in bed but went downstairs when Ms Dolan called him.

He said he was at his door wearing only boxer shorts, so asked to put clothes on, which another person brought.

Mr Wallace said he was asked to remove the cord from his tracksuit bottoms and did so.

He told the court he had told the officers he was placing the cord on the TV unit but when he raised his arm, he was grabbed.

“I got put on my front.

“I felt the other officer’s arms against my neck.

“There was one on my back and one on my right-hand side.

“I panicked.”

Photo and footage of ‘injuries’ shown

Mr Wallace said an officer had both forearms around his neck, choking him.

“I tried to shout on Catherine but I couldn’t,” he said.

Mr Wallace told the trial that as he was being taken to the police van in the street, one officer kneed his left thigh and a hand was placed to the rear of the left side of his head, pushing it into the wall.

“My head got pushed against the wall, just at the sitting room door.

“I felt a hand on the back of my head.”

Mr Wallace described the force used as being “a lot” and a photograph of a mark on his forehead, taken shortly afterwards, was shown.

He was taken outside topless and wearing no shoes, filmed by his then-partner.

The mobile phone footage showed red marks on Mr Wallace’s back, which he denied had been there before police had arrived.

Defence suggests ‘recognised bear-hug’

Cross-examining him, Shelagh McCall QC put it to him he had not, in fact, warned police he was going to place the cord on the TV unit.

She said: “The reality is that you didn’t give the officers warning.

“That move involved lifting one of your arms forward.”

She also suggested a police officer had “bear-hugged” him and kept him stooped as they escorted him to the van in a “recognised hold.”

The trial before, Sheriff Ian Duguid, continues.

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