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Gwent Police Federation

'Assault case against officer should not have gone to court'

5 July 2024

Police officers should not be prosecuted for simply doing their job, says Gwent Police Federation chair Matthew Candy.

Matthew was speaking out after Gediminas (Ged) Palubinskas was found not guilty of assault while arresting a man – three years after the alleged offence.

Ged, a former PC with Gwent Police, was accused of using excessive force as he tried to arrest Mikael Boukhari in the garden of a property in Newport for driving offences.

During the incident in July 2021, Mr Boukhari punched the officer in the face and bit him on the arm.

Ged maintained throughout the process that, in the light of the attacks on him, his actions were justified in self-defence.

A jury took fewer than 90 minutes to clear Ged, with Judge Huw Rees telling him: “You are free to leave the dock without a blemish on your character.”

Branch chair Matthew said the arrests fell under the description of using reasonable force and the incident should not have come to court.

“It’s been almost three years to the day to get this incident in front of a crown court – wrongly in the opinion of most police officers – for the court to hear and see the evidence to acquit him within 30 minutes.

“The officer maintained throughout that his actions, two or three strikes, were justified in the course of his duties to effect the arrest of a wanted suspect.

Self-defence

“The other two uses of force were in self-defence because Mr Boukhari had bitten Ged and punched him in the head.”

Under section 3 of the criminal law act and section 117 of PACE, officers are permitted the use of reasonable force in preventing a crime or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders.

Matthew said: “The arrest fell under the description of reasonable force in the line of his duty. So why was he being prosecuted for doing what we ask of him?

“I would like to see police forces, and in particular the IOPC, have more sympathy for the training that officers are given.

“It looks good on paper, but it’s not like that in real life.

“One day of safety training a year does not equip them to take down a very strong, very athletic, angry, aggressive man.

“People think that when we put someone in a set of handcuffs it will all be very pleasant and easily done, but unfortunately it’s not like that and self-defence doesn’t look like that in real life.

“It can be messy and not nice to see.”

Jurors heard that Mr Boukhari had 41 previous convictions for 71 offences including 10 driving matters, three of possession of a knife, 13 of theft and going equipped, and trafficking cocaine, heroin and nitrous oxide.

Not guilty

Ged echoed Matthew’s comments that the case should not have gone to trial.

“The expert witnesses said I followed the training,” he said. “Everything I did was in the powers available to me so why did the CPS decide to go ahead?

“Why did it go to court?”

Ged, who has since resigned from Gwent Police, added: “It’s a strange feeling to be acquitted because I waited three years to tell my story and it was gone in a short period when the jury came back and said I wasn’t guilty.

“When they said not guilty I couldn’t move.

“I was expecting and hoping for a not guilty verdict, but it was strange and a relief when it came.”

READ MORE: Have your say on police uniform.