Off duty policeman discharged for assault at soccer match

November 19, 2013 | By More

Court House-Sept-2013-08A police constable who grabbed a soccer linesman by the throat has been discharged without conviction but was described by a judge as behaving like “the spectator from hell”.

Senior Constable Keith Rose was ordered to pay $1500 emotional harm reparations to the match official he admitted assaulting, at a hearing in the Christchurch District Court.

Rose, 59 with 42 years service with the police, still faces a police code of conduct hearing over his behaviour at English Park on June 29.

He has been stood down from his usual duties since being charged with assault, a charge he indicated he would defend until today’s hearing.

Defence counsel Pip Hall QC said the case arose from a “collision” between Rose and the linesmen as the match officials left the ground and headed for the changing rooms. Some witnesses said the complainant had collided with Rose, and some witnesses saw it the other way around.

He said Rose had acted according to his police training in holding the victim by the throat, and it was accepted that was an overreaction. Rose had been recovering from major surgery to his own neck at the time.

As soon as people intervened, he had released the official.

Mr Hall said the assault was “at the lowest end of the spectrum” and he urged the judge to grant a discharge without conviction.

Prosecutor Stephen Burdes said it was not part of police training to tackle someone in the way Rose had done. There were specific rules and regulations for how off-duty officers can react when confronted with such situations.

This confrontation happened at the end of a match between Western and Cashmere Technical, in which Rose’s son had been playing. Mr Burdes said Western supporters had been unhappy with the standard of officiating during the match, and Rose had been heard to criticise the referee as a “disgrace”.

The incident happened as the group of officials left the field. The police summary of facts refers to the two men colliding.

The linesman was shocked and stunned to be grabbed by the throat but was not injured.

Mr Hall told the court that Rose had since written a letter of apology to the official.

Judge Murfitt told Rose: “You and no doubt others behaved like a spectator from hell.”

He granted the discharge because a conviction would have had disproportionately severe consequences for Rose, but ordered the reparation payment to the victim who had been exposed to ridicule and derision and had not officiated at any matches since.

“In this case there is also an important public interest in recognising the vulnerabilities of volunteer officials who give their time,” said the judge.

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