Eastbourne police officer found guilty of assault

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A police officer has been found guilty of assaulting a man after a row in an Eastbourne bar.

Police constable Robert Rangeley had denied causing actual bodily harm but was convicted following a week long trial.

His police colleague Paul Bridger also denied the assault charge and was cleared of any wrong doing by the jury.

Hove Crown Court had heard the officers were off-duty at the time of the incident in Maxims in South Street in January last year when Rangeley was pushed to the floor. Later the assault victim Martin Lovatt was found lying on the floor covered in blood.

Jurors were told during the trial that Rangeley initially told police and paramedics he was responsible and apologised, but later claimed he had blacked out and did not remember the assault.

The court heard both men were arrested that day and Mr Bridger, a Lewes-based response officer from Polegate, was suspended two months later.

Rangeley, who lives and worked in Eastbourne Police, was on sick leave at the time.

Three years earlier, Mr Bridger was commended for chasing and arresting a rape suspect while injured.

Members of the jury retired to consider their verdicts on Tuesday afternoon and returned to court at lunchtime today (Thursday).

After the verdicts were announced, Detective Superintendent Steve Boniface, head of the Professional Standards Department, said, “Sussex Police expects the highest personal and professional standards of anyone who works for us and any allegations of behaviour that do not meet those standards are rigorously investigated.

“On rare occasions, these investigations are of a criminal nature, leading to trials such as this and it is entirely right they should. While the incident occurred while the officers were off-duty, both were suspended from their posts and we will now consider what disciplinary action they should face.

“It is important to show the force has the ability to fairly investigate its own staff and this highlights our determination not to allow the name of Sussex Police to be tainted, nor bring into disrepute the enormous amount of good work carried out day-to-day by thousands of hard-working and enormously dedicated police officers and staff.”