Case collapses against autistic man Tasered by police and charged with assault after his mother obtained CCTV footage

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Police responding to an incident Tasered Paul after he started to run (SWNS)

A man with severe learning difficulties who was Tasered by police and charged with assaulting an officer has seen his case collapse after his mother discovered CCTV footage of the incident.

The autistic man, Paul, who has a mental age of seven, could have been jailed had the trial gone ahead – until his mother provided the damning evidence.

She obtained CCTV footage from the sheltered accommodating where the then-25-year-old lived – showing a different version of events from those provided by police.

Cops were called to the sheltered accommodation in Bristol after Paul, now aged 28, allegedly broke a window in August 2015.

After Paul started to run, a PC Tasered him in the back and he fell to the ground.

But the version of events provided by the two officers claimed Paul pushed a PC “double-handed in the chest with open palms” and the officer “stumbled back two foot” before the Taser was used.

Two officers claimed Paul pushed a PC and the officer “stumbled back two foot” before the Taser was used (SWNS)

It was only when Paul’s mother, Margaret, obtained CCTV footage herself and handed it to the defence when the case went to trial, that the charges were dropped.

Prosecutor Kevin Withey, who dealt with the case at Bristol Magistrates’ Court in 2015, said it “shows an incident rather different to that described in the statements of the PCs”.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary defended the officers’ actions and said the arrest was necessary.

But Paul’s mother, Margaret, called for the use of Tasers to be investigated.

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She said: “If Paul had been found guilty on the basis of their evidence, he would have been sent to prison.”

MP Kerry McCarthy, who represents Bristol East, said it was “entirely unacceptable” for a Taser to be used in an allegation as minor as a broken window.

She also questioned why CCTV was not obtained by police, and the case was allowed to progress to the courts.

An investigation was carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), now known as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.

Paul’s mother, Margaret, called for the use of Tasers to be investigated (SWNS)

The IOPC said that although the actions of the officer who failed to gather the CCTV evidence “fell below the standard expected”, it was not misconduct.

A report said the arrest and use of the Taser were reasonable – but the report has also not been officially released.

Superintendent Richard Corrigan, from Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said the decision to arrest Paul “was necessary” and the use of the Taser was justified.

The force backed its officers and said one had been kicked and they were unaware of Paul’s learning difficulties, despite him living in sheltered accommodation, now known as The Maples, in Fishponds, Bristol.

The police watchdog recommended further disability awareness training for officers.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “It is important local people have the highest level of confidence in the police as I know this affects how safe you feel in your community.”