Police officer faces Norfolk’s first public misconduct hearing for allegedly smashing man’s head

Police are appealing for witnesses to a burglary in Downham Market. Picture: James Bass.

Police are appealing for witnesses to a burglary in Downham Market. Picture: James Bass. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

A police officer has denied smashing a detained man's head into handcuffs during an arrest in Great Yarmouth.

PC Ben Pitman is accused of assaulting George Watty on Friday, February 13 while trying to arrest him, a claim he denies.

Yesterday, at a misconduct hearing at Norfolk Constabulary's Wymondham headquarters, Mr Watty said a police officer had been called to his North River Road home in Great Yarmouth to reports of a domestic incident.

Mr Watty, who said he had drunk half a bottle of vodka at the time, said a 'scuffle' broke out between him and PC Darren Cunningham who, at yesterday's hearing, said he was punched in the side of the head during the exchange.

Back-up, including PC Pitman, was called and it is then that 52-year-old Mr Watty claims PC Pitman banged his head into the cuffs while he was lying face-down on the floor.

He said: 'I felt like I was a hammer hitting a nail. Then I heard someone say, 'Stop Ben, that's enough'.'

Mr Watty, who has moved to Southend and gave evidence via video link, said he wanted to see justice 'run its course'.

Most Read

During the hearing, the first to be held in public in Norfolk, PC Cunning-ham said PC Pitman 'grabbed the sides of Mr Watty's head'. 'At this point he forced Watty's head to the floor and it made contact, in my opinion, with my handcuffs,' he said.

PC Cunningham was holding the centre of the handcuffs but said he could not be certain if Mr Watty's head hit them. He described the force used by PC Pitman as 'excessive'.

Susannah Stevens, counsel for PC Pitman, said: 'No one pulled PC Pitman away, no one took him off to calm down. In fact, he goes along with Mr Watty to the police station.'

Addressing PC Cunningham, she said: 'If you witnessed what you said you did, as the arresting officer in this case, would you not have asked someone else to go with him?' She accused him of being 'dishonest'.

The hearing will continue today.