A POLICE officer has been fined for head-butting a driver in a ‘road rage’ incident.
Decorated traffic sergeant David Sanderson, formerly of Havant roads policing unit, was ordered to pay £1,610 at Worthing Magistrates’ Court today, having previously been found guilty of assault by beating.
The court heard how the officer attacked Donya Bryant while he was off duty after a confrontation near the Asda petrol station 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.
But prosecutor Gaynor Byng told the court it was on hands-free mode and Ms Bryant had received ‘upsetting news’ shortly before the altercation that her friend had died suddenly.
Chairman of the bench, magistrate Marley Isaac, said it was a ‘very serious and unfortunate incident’.
She said: ‘We are very mindful of your position in the force, your daily occupation, your previous good character and 23 years of exemplary service.
‘However, this does appear to have been an ongoing road rage incident which began at the pumps and continued on the forecourt.’
She added that Ms Bryant would have felt ‘very intimidated’ by the 45-year-old and that she was a passenger holding a phone on hands-free mode, which is not illegal.
While she admitted the victim ‘provoked’ Sanderson, Mrs Isaac said it was ‘disappointing’ that he did not identify himself as a police officer and act more appropriately.
Witnesses, including another off duty police officer who reported the incident internally, saw Sanderson revving his motorbike after Ms Bryant filled up her partner’s car, and then sounded his horn and followed the pair. She put up her middle finger to him and he continued to follow them, pulling up alongside the car and shouting through the window to get off the phone.
Ms Bryant, a dispatcher for South Central Ambulance Service, then got out of the car to stand between her partner and the 45-year-old officer when the argument escalated.
The court heard how Sanderson said ‘what are you going to do about it’, to which Ms Bryant replied: ‘I will probably kill you in the mood I’m in at the moment’.
Ms Bryant then swore at the police officer, and he head-butted her with his crash helmet on, leaving her with a red lump the size of a fifty pence piece, the prosecutor said.
In a statement read out in court, Ms Bryant said: ‘I have been extremely let down by a police officer, someone who is meant to look after the public.’
Sanderson’s lawyer Paul Fairley lodged an appeal, and said his client had no recollection of head-butting Ms Bryant.
The decorated 45-year-old, of Edenbridge Road, Baffins, Portsmouth, has won numerous awards for heroism during his time in the force, including one for risking his life to disarm a knifeman.
He has not been suspended from Hampshire Constabulary despite being found guilty - but Mr Fairley said if his client was dismissed from his job he could lose his pension and his home.
Sanderson was ordered to pay a £828 fine, £600 of court costs, £100 compensation to the victim and an £82 victim surcharge.