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Judge rules Taser cop Nick Hills went too far at Long Rock home

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 23, 2014

Judge rules Taser cop Nick Hills went too far at Long Rock home

A POLICE officer acted unlawfully when he tried to force his way into a Long Rock family's home and pulled a Taser on them, a judge has ruled.

PC Nick Hills went to Stephen Curnow's home after being asked to help an RSPCA inspector who had been told to leave the property.

PC Hills had no warrant when he arrived at the house on September 6 last year, and although he later claimed that Mr Curnow, 48, had acted in an aggressive way, Judge Christopher Harvey Clark, QC, ruled that he was in no doubt the officer had overstepped the mark and inflamed the situation.

The judgement was made after an appeal hearing at Truro Crown Court.

Mr Curnow, who runs a pheasant shoot near Crowlas, had his shotgun and firearms licences revoked after the incident.

It all started when RSPCA inspector Michael Reid visited Mr Curnow's home and asked to inspect his dogs after the charity received an anonymous tip-off that one was suffering from mange. This was later found not to be the case.

Mr Reid was refused entry but in the judge's words, "he would not take no for an answer".

He returned on his own and then again with PC Hills.

The court heard PC Hills went to Mr Curnow's door where his foot "became trapped".

He also produced his Taser during the altercation with Mr Curnow and his wife Julia, though he did not activate it.

Aggressive

David Sapiecha, appearing for Devon and Cornwall Police, accused Mr Curnow of being aggressive and telling Mr Reid to "p*** off".

Mr Curnow responded that he had not been aggressive but said he did use those words to the inspector on his third visit.

The judge said: "If he (Mr Curnow) did show anger, that anger was justified. It was a case of the RSPCA inspector going too far in trying to persuade the officer to force an entry for him."

Mr Curnow, a court-certified bailiff, was arrested and released without charge but the police decided to revoke his gun licences.

Police cited two other incidents – one where Mr Curnow was cautioned and another where he refused an officer entry to his home.

His appeal to have the revocation lifted was upheld.

Judge Harvey Clark said he could not accept PC Hills' evidence.

"PC Hills had no authority to enter the appellant's home," he said. "The police officer was acting in excess of his lawful authority, trespassing without a warrant."

Judge Harvey Clark said he hoped there would be no repercussions.

He said: "We don't want the appellant to be regarded by the local constabulary as someone in respect of whom they have a score to settle."

After the hearing, Mr Curnow said: "I always urge everybody to fight the system, not to be afraid of it. It is there to protect us as well as punish us."

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said requesting police attendance was usual procedure if access was refused.

She said: "A police warrant was not requested. This would be a last resort and may not have been granted had we not exhausted other options first."

Devon and Cornwall Police said they could not comment until they had seen a written judgement from the case.

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