Jonathan Billinghurst says Enfield officers who smashed windows of Mini should have been sacked
Sandra Laville, crime correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 3 November 2011 19.22 GMT
The driver of a car that was attacked by police carrying baseball bats and a pickaxe handle has said he wants criminal charges brought against the six officers involved.
Jonathan Billinghurst, 24, said the punishment imposed on the officers was not severe enough given the level of violence used when he was stopped in north London.
Billinghurst spoke out after the Metropolitan police said the officers, members of the Enfield crime squad in north London, would not be sacked after being found guilty of misconduct at a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday.
One was demoted a rank and the other five were given a formal reprimand after it was ruled that they had used excessive force when they stopped the car. It is likely all six will be back on full duties in the near future. Scotland Yard said their suspension was now being reviewed.
Billinghurst told the Guardian: “I am not happy about the outcome of this at all. I think that the officers should have lost their jobs. What they did was criminal, inhuman and assault. I still have nightmares about it and hearing the result of this has just brought it all back. If an ordinary person had done this they would be looking at a stiff sentence.”
During the hearing, senior officers viewed a video taken by the police team showing them leaping from their vehicle and smashing the windows and windscreen of Billinghurst’s Mini.
Billinghurst, who was sentenced to four months in prison for driving while disqualified and handling stolen goods, said he had bought the car for £6,000 after seeing it advertised in the local area. Had he known it was stolen, he said, he would not have driven it daily to work at Ikea.
Last year the Crown Prosecution Service announced it would not bring charges against any of the Enfield officers, after a 16-month inquiry into a string of allegations including assault, misappropriation of property and the attack on Billinghurst’s car.
It said Billinghurst had not co-operated with the inquiry, and the six officers had justified their actions by stating there was intelligence that he was dangerous and had a history of weapons and violence towards police officers. As such, the CPS said, “It was impossible to prove that the force used was not proportionate or reasonable.”
It is now known that anti-corruption investigators found no intelligence to support the officers’ claims, and the disciplinary panel found that the officers had used excessive force. Investigators also dismissed suggestions by the officers that Billinghurst’s supposed grudge against the police was a result of the death two years earlier of his twin brother in an accident involving a police vehicle. His brother died in a head-on collision with another vehicle, but no police were involved.
Billinghurst said: “It’s not the case that I did not want to co-operate. I went to the disciplinary hearing and I fully explained what happened. I would co-operate with a criminal investigation.
“My brother died in a collision with another car – there were no police involved. I was in the back seat when it happened, my brother and his friend died straight away, I was the only survivor. They tried to say that me and my brother had dealt with firearms before – that was just not true.”
Recalling the attack, he said: “I was on my way back home to see my parents. The next thing I knew there was a bang, and glass flying around – it was going in my eyes. There was another bang, and I could see baseball bats in the windows.
“I thought I was being robbed, and I thought I was going to go blind with all the glass. They pulled me from the car and pushed me to the ground with a lot of force. All of this has just brought it back to me, and I am horrified that these officers are all still in their jobs.”
The CPS said: “We have not been contacted by police or the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission], but if we are, then we will consider any information we are given. It is a matter for the police or IPCC as to whether they should contact us.”