Cop cleared of assault in Hitchin

A POLICEMAN has been cleared of assaulting a man in the street.

The officer, who was off duty at the time, was said to have attacked a man at the end of a night out.

But in court the police constable said that while he had been in Nightingale Road, Hitchin that night he had no memory of the events because he was extremely drunk.

Gary Wellsburr, 29, who the court heard was an infrequent drinker and who was known for his calm approach when dealing with situations, said: “I am not disputing something has occurred, but it’s not me.”

He added: “I don’t do this, I don’t hurt people and I am not a violent person.”

Mr Wellsburr, who lives in Royston, said that in the seven years he had been dealing with drunken people and violence on the streets, he’d never had to use force.

The officer was giving evidence at Bedford Magistrates’ Court on Friday where he pleaded not guilty to common assault in the early hours of April 2.

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The court heard that Adam Blacklaw, a 24-year-old engineer, was making his way home after spending the evening in Molly Mallone’s, a bar on Nightingale Road.

He said he hadn’t gone far before he noticed a couple on the other side of the road arguing.

Mr Blacklaw said the man shouted at him, “What are you looking at?” before running over and punching him over his left eye, sending him to the ground.

He said his attacker then straddled him and delivered two or three more punches before a passing motorist stopped his car and called out and the attack came to an end.

Mr Blacklaw rang 999 and police soon arrived in the street. Mr Wellsburr was arrested and blood found on his T shirt was matched to Mr Blacklaw.

However, days later Mr Blacklaw failed to pick out the officer as his attacker during an identification procedure.

Giving evidence, Mr Wellsburr said he had come to Hitchin with his wife the evening before to attend a works do with colleagues.

He said the evening began in the Queen Victoria pub and then some of the party went on to Bar Borra.

He told the court he ended up extremely drunk at the end of the night and had no memory of leaving the bar with his wife to walk to the railway station.

The next day all he had was a “vision” of two people who had been in front of him and one of them was pushing and shouting at him.

Cross examined, he said there could have been an altercation and a cut that was subsequently found on his finger could have been the result of going to someone’s aid.

District judge Nicholas Leigh-Smith cleared Mr Wellsburr of the charge. He said it was clear the officer and the victim had come into contact but based on the evidence he couldn’t say what the circumstances were.