A jury has rejected claims six Perth police officers attacked an unarmed man in his kitchen and later colluded to say he was carrying a weapon.
Peter Hodge went on trial at Perth Sheriff Court accused of assaulting officers and threatening them with a knife.
The 35-year-old alleged he was a victim of police brutality, saying officers stormed into his North Muirton home and pepper sprayed him in the face.
He claimed he was not carrying a foot-long knife, but was instead holding his mobile phone.
His solicitor asked jurors to question the police actions, asking: “Who watches the watchmen?”
But the remote jury of seven men and eight women took just less than an hour to find Hodge guilty of threatening police while brandishing a knife.
He was also found guilty of resisting, obstructing or hindering officers as they tried to apply handcuffs.
Jurors further found Hodge guilty of assaulting one officer by spitting in his face.
Aggressive and topless
The trial heard that police officers Scott McDonald, Sarah Aitken, Ali Gordon and Logan Clarke responded to reports of an “ongoing disturbance” at Hodge’s flat at The Rookery on February 20, last year.
They were met by neighbours hanging over balcony railings and pointing them towards the property.
PC Aitken told the trial Hodge appeared at his front door and told officers to “f*** off”.
She said they entered the property because they had concerns about people inside.
Officers saw Hodge standing topless in his kitchen. He reached into a drawer and armed himself with a 12 inch knife, and shouted: “Come on then.”
He advanced towards PC McDonald, who shot him in the face with PAVA spray.
The constable shouted: “Knife! PAVA! Drop knife!”
He told the court he was worried the accused posed “a threat to life”.
Constable Logan Clarke told the jury: “I thought I could be severely hurt here.”
‘Why would officers lie?’
While being arrested, Hodge attempted to headbutt PC McDonald and spat in his face.
He denied the assault, saying he was simply clearing his throat.
The court heard that two of the officers called for back-up.
Fiscal depute Michael Dunlop asked jurors: “If this was a phone – and not a foot long knife – that Mr Hodge was holding then why would two officers, one experienced and one new, feel the need to click their emergency buttons to summon the cavalry.”
He added: “It would be a bit of an over-reaction to shoot him in the face with PAVA spray if he just had a phone.”
The prosecutor said: “Why would six officers lie about what they saw.
“Imagine the ramifications for them if that was the case. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Who watches the watchmen
Solicitor Paul Ralph, defending, said in his closing speech: “There’s an old phrase: Who watches the watchmen?
“Who has the power to oversee the police?
“I accept that being a police officer is a difficult job, and I don’t think anyone who disagree with that.
“But it is also a privilege. They are given sweeping powers over their citizens to search them – and if you’ve seen the recent scandals, not always with their clothes on.
“They need to be monitored.”
He said: “The police officers weren’t invited in that night, they took the decision to enter.
“They don’t have carte blanche to run riot in someone’s property if they are just coming in to check on people’s welfare.”
Mr Ralph questioned officers claims that Hodge took a knife from a drawer, despite a knife block sitting on the work surface in front of him.
Co-accused pled guilty
Jurors found two further allegations that Hodge assaulted two other officers not proven.
Co-accused Amy Mill, of St John Street, Perth, admitted assaulting PC Clarke during the same incident by placing her arms around his neck and dragging him to the ground.
She also pled guilty to resisting arrest.
Sheriff William Wood told the pair: “This was a very serious incident”.
Sentence was deferred to September 8.
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