Login Register

Police appeal against £40,500 award

CHESHIRE police are appealing against a decision to award £40,500 in damages to a drink-driver who tried to attack a police officer.

CHESHIRE police are appealing against a decision to award £40,500 in damages to a drink-driver who tried to attack a police officer.

Richard Spilsbury, 31, threw a punch at the officer before accidentally breaking his leg in the ensuing mêlée near the Grosvenor Bridge in Chester.

Mr Spilsbury took the police to court, but lost his claim for damages for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

But the jury at Liverpool County Court then decided the police had been negligent after Mr Spilsbury told them his leg was broken.

Instead of calling an ambulance, officers took him first to Chester Police Station, then the Countess of Chester Hospital after he had been seen by a police surgeon.

Barristers William Waldron, for the police, and Tim Holloway, for Mr Spilsbury, agreed he should be awarded £500 for the bruising, swelling and soft tissue damage he would not have suffered if he had gone straight to hospital.

The jury then had to consider whether to award aggravated damages, having been told by Judge Mark Brown that, while there was no maximum figure, it should normally be no more than twice the basic damages.

But they awarded Mr Spilsbury, a sheet metal worker and aircraft fitter, £40,000 aggravated damages.

Mr Waldron then successfully applied for leave to appeal.

Mr Spilsbury had been seen by police officers driving his Land Rover home for Christmas from Holyhead. He had been working in Ireland for six months.

He was stopped and, when he got out his car, said to the officer: 'How does it feel to be doing jobs where everybody hates you?'

He was two-and-a-half times the drink drive limit, the court heard.

Officers agreed to drive his car to his home in Sandy Lane, Boughton.

On arrival, he got out of the police vehicle, despite being told not to, and swung a punch at an officer.

The officer grabbed hold of Mr Spilsbury and both fell to the ground, with the officer landing on Mr Spilsbury's right leg, breaking it.

The police denied Mr Spilsbury then told them his leg was broken, but the jury decided he had done so.

Mr Spilsbury claimed the officer had 'barged him to the ground from behind', deliberately coming down on his leg. But the jury rejected these claims.

He subsequently admitted drink-driving, and was convicted of careless driving. He was cleared of assault with intent to resist arrest.

Spilsbury claimed that, after the December 1996 incident, he was unable to work for 18 months and lost £30,000 in wages. But because his leg was judged to have been broken accidentally the jury was told this was irrelevant.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
Contact Us
Full contact details