A POLICEMAN who behaved like a "bully'' and a "coward" by repeatedly striking an innocent member of the public with his baton has been jailed for 18 months.
PC Jason Livesey carried out the unwarranted attack while on weekend duty in Accrington town centre and his actions had brought disgrace upon the force, said a judge.
He then lied about the incident in a witness statement and lied again under oath when oil rig worker Lee Sayers was tried for using threatening behaviour.
Magistrates found Mr Sayers not guilty but Preston Crown Court was told that the defendant's actions could have resulted in a serious miscarriage of justice.
Livesey, 33, of Walton-le-Dale, was convicted of actual bodily harm, assault, perjury and perverting the course of justice on a jury's majority verdicts following a trial last month.
The court heard that the incident took place in June 2003 when PC Livesey stopped to talk to two attractive mini-skirted young women through the window of his police patrol car.
Passer-by Mr Sayers was pushed into the girls for a laugh by his friends.
He quickly apologised but the officer got out of his vehicle and went on to strike him up to five times with his baton. He claimed at his trial to have acted in self-defence.
But an eyewitness told the court how she had shouted that he was out of order, to which Livesey arrogantly winked, grinned and said: "Yeah, I know."
The woman was so shocked by what she had seen that she went on to write an eloquent letter of complaint to the police.
Livesey's barrister, Miss Elizabeth Nicholls, told this week's sentencing hearing that the conviction had been "a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions."
She said: "The greater the man, the greater the fall. It is a very significant fall from grace."
Livesey, married with a young child, had suffered public humiliation and the case had clearly shocked other officers in the force where he was highly regarded. His career was now over.
Miss Nicholls asked for a sentence to be passed that would avoid him being sent into custody.
She added: "Every day in custody will feel like a lifetime sentence."
Passing sentence, Judge Anthony Russell QC said the defendant had thought he could get away with what happened because of his office. But there had been a large number of respectable people who testified about what he had done.
The assault had been vicious, causing bruising that lasted for some time.
Mr Sayers was a man who had done nothing significant to justify the officer's intervention.
The judge said of the assault: "They were the actions of a bully and a coward, abusing your authority as a police officer.
"It may have been the result of a momentary loss of control but what followed was certainly not that. You went on to tell lies to justify your misconduct.
"Mr Sayers could have been convicted and possibly sent to prison. Had you been believed, a serious miscarriage of justice would have occurred.
"I have no option but to pass a sentence of immediate imprisonment in order to punish you and to act as a warning that police misconduct of this kind will not be tolerated.
"Offences like this diminish the confidence of the public in the police. You have brought disgrace upon the police force."
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