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Man who broke taxi warden's tooth in drunken scuffle loses assault appeal

Man who broke taxi warden's tooth in drunken scuffle loses assault appeal

Thursday 12 January 2023

Man who broke taxi warden's tooth in drunken scuffle loses assault appeal

Thursday 12 January 2023

A reveller, who punched a taxi rank warden in a drunken scuffle after being removed from the Weighbridge queue for throwing a bag of chips at a woman, has had an appeal against his assault conviction thrown out.

Alexander Joseph McAdam was found guilty following a one-day trial in the Magistrate's Court in September.

Police officers intervened after noticing a disturbance in the queue. During a struggle with two officers and the warden, McAdam threw a punch which chipped his victim's tooth. However, McAdam argued that he had been incapable of carrying out the attack as he was being restrained at the time.

The Relief Magistrate, in finding McAdam guilty, said that the victim had been a "credible witness" and that his evidence had been "corroborated" by one of the police officers, while CCTV and body-worn camera footage also led the Relief Magistrate to be "satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt".

In a recently published Royal Court judgment, it was found that the officer's evidence was that he did not see McAdam punch the taxi rank warden, while the body-worn camera footage was described as "chaotic".

Royal Court

Pictured: The appeal was heard by the Royal Court.

"When giving his reasons for returning a guilty verdict, the [Relief] Magistrate correctly summarised the evidence of [the victim]. However, when he came to the evidence of PC Alcock, the summary was in part correct but contained the passage "the officer stated that he took the defendant to the floor and saw him throw a punch at [the victim]". In fact, the officer saw no such thing – he saw no punch thrown by the appellant at [the victim] when the appellant was on the floor or taken to the floor," the Royal Court said in its ruling on McAdam's appeal against his conviction.

"It is clear that the [Relief] Magistrate found [the victim] to be a credible witness and on our view of the transcript he was entitled to come to that conclusion. However, he was not entitled to come to the conclusion that [the victim's] evidence was, on the key issue, corroborated by PC Alcock, as it was not.

"It was difficult to ascertain from the [Relief] Magistrate's reference to the evidence of the body-worn camera footage and the CCTV footage what aspect of that material satisfied him so that he was sure of the appellant's guilt," the judgment continued.

Despite this, the Royal Court said the Relief Magistrate was entitled to find McAdam guilty of assault based on the evidence.

The judgment added: "In this case, the appellant was drunk and had for no good reason thrown a bag of chips at another member of the public. He was angry and this use of violence was consistent with his subsequent behaviour. After he had run across the road, he, the two police officers and [the victim] had a struggle on the floor.

"The relevant part of the body-worn camera footage was chaotic, confused and the footage did not show the full picture. There was certainly a time before the appellant was restrained where his right arm was free and there was a period when [the victim] and the appellant were both on the ground together.

"[The victim] was sober and simply doing his job. The footage shows the appellant struggling violently and [the victim] told the police officer within moments of the alleged assault that he had been assaulted and he gestured to his mouth. Photographs taken that night showed the injury.

"The [Relief] Magistrate was entitled to come to the conclusion that [the victim] was a credible witness on the evidence we had and we agree with that conclusion having regard to the transcript before us.

"The reference to PC Alcock corroborating the evidence of [the victim] was wrong. PC Alcock had not seen an assault. He and the other officer appeared to have been focused on subduing and arresting the appellant.

"Having regard to evidence as a whole, we see no reason to go behind the conclusion reached by the [Relief] Magistrate and in the circumstances, notwithstanding the significant error made by the [Relief] Magistrate, we are satisfied that on the evidence the [Relief] Magistrate could properly have come to the decision that he did. Accordingly, we dismissed the appeal."

Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae was presiding, and sitting alongside Jurats Elizabeth Dulake and David Le Heuzé.

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