Police sergeant convicted of headbutting woman in mobile phone row

Sgt David Sanderson on patrol
Sgt David Sanderson on patrol
Barry Leigh outside court

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A POLICE officer faces being sacked after he lashed out in a fit of anger and head butted a woman in the face while he was off duty.

Shamed Sergeant David Sanderson’s distinguished 22-year career with Hampshire Constabulary now hangs in the balance after magistrates convicted him of assault.

The decorated 45-year-old has won numerous awards for heroism during his time in the force, including one for risking his life to disarm a knifeman.

But Worthing Magistrates’ Court heard how the officer attacked Donja Bryant after a confrontation near the Asda garage at Chandlers Ford, on June 6, 2016.

Sanderson claimed he spotted Ms Bryant’s partner, Nadia Aziz, using her mobile phone behind the wheel of her car as he was filling up his motorbike.

The court heard Sanderson shouted at the women and ‘recklessly’ pursued them out of the petrol station in Bournemouth Road in an effort to ‘educate’ them.

When the couple pulled back into Asda, the road traffic cop stopped next to their car, blocking the driver’s door, and continued shouting at them.

Ms Bryant, who is a dispatcher for South Central Ambulance Service, said she begged Sanderson to leave, telling him the phone was on hands-free.

She added that not once did he identify himself as a police officer.

‘He was intimidating,’ Ms Bryant said. ‘He was stood there, shouting and glaring at the window even though we had pulled it up.’

When she got out of the car and told him to leave, Sanderson said: ‘What are you going to do about it?’, she said.

Enraged, she admitted how she threatened him, saying she could have ‘killed him’ and that Sanderson, of Edenbridge Road, Baffins, Portsmouth, then head butted her forehead, causing a small lump. ‘I could almost see it in his eyes that he knew he shouldn’t have done that,’ she added. ‘He knew that was probably the wrong move.’

The burly 6ft officer told the court he was ‘scared for his safety’ after his 5ft 4in victim confronted him while he sat astride his bike and that he ‘panicked’ and nearly fell off his Honda Blackbird.

He said he did not remember head butting Ms Bryant, adding he only wanted to have an ‘adult conversation’ with them and felt it was ‘his duty’ to get them off their phone.

‘I have attended some of the most serious collisions in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen first hand what a crash really looks like, where I have seen limbs, decapitations, and all sorts of horrid things that people should not see.’ Defending, Darren Bartlett told the court Sanderson never intended to head butt Ms Bryant.

But PS Charles Ilderton, another off-duty officer who witnessed the altercation, claimed the attack appeared to be deliberate. When PS Ilderton confronted Sanderson, he was told: ‘You don’t know what you saw young man, I’m police too’, prosecutor Paul Edwards said.

Magistrate Juliet Pick was not convinced by Sanderson’s account and said: ‘We find it implausible that the head butt was accidental. The crown has proved their case beyond all reasonable doubt.’

Sanderson is due to be sentenced on April 24.