Police sergeant who threw innocent woman, 57, headfirst on to concrete floor is jailed for six months
A judge branded two police officers liars yesterday as he jailed a sergeant who hurled a woman headfirst on to a concrete floor.
Sergeant Mark Andrews was caught on CCTV dragging Pamela Somerville, 59, by her wrists across the floor of a police station in Wiltshire before throwing her into a cell.
The footage shows him walking away as his 5ft 2in victim lies unconscious on the floor with blood pouring from a wound above her left eye.
Andrews, pictured, a burly 6ft 3in former soldier, was found guilty of assaulting Miss Somerville after a trial at Oxford Magistrates’ Court in July.
Sentencing him to six months in jail in the same court yesterday, deputy district judge Peter Greenfield said: ‘Right-thinking members of the public will be appalled and totally saddened by your actions as a police officer.’
The judge was also critical of two officers who witnessed the incident and who gave evidence in the trial.
He told the court he did not accept their version of events and he had written to the Chief Constable of Wiltshire to express his concern over their evidence.
Wiltshire Police refused to release the names of the officers.
Last night Miss Somerville attacked the ‘lenient’ sentence and said she was losing the sight in her left eye.
‘He could be out in three months,’ she said.
‘If he had been a member of the public that had assaulted me in that way, I think he would have got a greater sentence.’
But while passing sentence, Mr Greenfield said Andrews had abused his position of trust and only a custodial sentence was appropriate.
He said: ‘In my view, you presided over an atmosphere of bullying and intimidation upon Ms Somerville which culminated in the cell later that morning.’
The judge continued: ‘I regard that a gross breach of trust placed upon you by Ms Somerville.
‘I consider that right thinking members of the public will be appalled and totally saddened by your actions as a police officer.’
The court heard that Andrews, who is married with children aged four and two, joined Wiltshire Police about eight years ago and was promoted to sergeant in 2005.
Prior to joining the police, he had spent around nine years in the Army, reaching the rank of sergeant.
Mr Barton, in mitigation, said Andrews was truly sorry for what happened to Ms Somerville.
‘Right from the very outset, he’s expressed sorrow for the injuries that she received while in his custody,’ Mr Barton told the court.
Nightmare: Pamela Somerville, left, and with a blood-spattered shirt and black eye after her ordeal
Mr Barton said Ms Somerville had been drinking and had sworn at police officers while in the station.
‘This was someone in police custody, drunk and abusive, and it was for these reasons that control was required of her to place her in her cell, unlawfully as the court has found,’ he said.
He said alcohol must play some part in this.
The district judge accepted that Ms Somerville, who was described in court as slightly built, had been abusive but said she was ‘not lashing out or making threats’.
Mr Barton said Andrews had already received death threats and the stress from the court case has put his family under great strain.
‘He has received online death threats as to what would happen to him if he was to be imprisoned,’ he said.
‘He has also received phone calls. To say he has been to the mill and back would be an understatement.’
Balding Andrews, wearing a dark suit, was led from the court in handcuffs by two dock officers.
Jeremy Barton, defending Andrews, immediately submitted papers for an appeal.
Ms Somerville described Andrews as ‘extremely aggressive’ and said he had repeatedly told her to ‘shut up’.
‘All he seemed to say was “shut up, shut up, shut up”, with other adjectives in front of shut up,’ she told Sky News.
‘I was terrified on the way to the police station and when I got into the custody suite, I thought it would be sorted out.’
She added: ‘I thought they must have mistaken me for somebody who had done some terrible crime. Whatever crime you have done or haven’t done, is this what happens in police cells?’
Miss Somerville, a market researcher, was arrested when police found her asleep in her car in a lay-by in Melksham, Wiltshire, in 2008.
She had had a minor argument with her partner.
Wiltshire Police said she was arrested for failing to provide a breath sample, though she completely denies being drunk or refusing to provide a sample.
She was charged, but police later dropped the case against her.
She encountered Sgt Andrews at the police station.
Before taking her to the cell, the sergeant can be heard on the CCTV shouting: ‘Shut up. Listen to me. You are in my custody now and you will be quiet and you will listen. Do you understand?’
When she later walked out of the cell after a police doctor visited her, she recalls being ‘lifted up under the arms like a doll by Sgt Andrews and thrown headfirst back into the cell’.
He then slammed the door shut, leaving her unconscious on the floor.
Miss Somerville, 59, who lives with her partner John in the hamlet of North Colerne, Wiltshire, says she may need a cataract operation as a result of the attack.
She said: ‘My vision is still affected – it’s as if I’m looking through a cloud.’
Sgt Andrews was suspended on full pay after his conviction.
Wiltshire Police’s assistant chief constable Patrick Geenty said: ‘The force has formally apologised to the injured lady for the assault she suffered while in our care.’