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Policeman who violently attacked serial car thief spared jail, because it was “out of character”

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin

An award-winning policeman who violently attacked a serial car thief has been spared jail.

Andrew Martin was last month warned he could be facing prison after he admitted repeatedly punching Liam Smith during an arrest.

Martin and two other officers had gone to an address in Aberdeen’s Stocket Grange to execute an arrest warrant and spotted Smith scrambling out of a window.

They chased the then-17-year-old – who is a well-known car thief – and caught him.

But while he was being detained on the ground, Martin fell on his head and repeatedly punched his face.

The court heard that those few seconds had “completely wiped out 10 years of a career”, with Martin quitting the force.

The 31-year-old – who won a humanitarian award and was on track to join CID – had not been due to go out on the arrest, but decided to join his colleagues as he was stressed with paperwork and wanted to “clear his head”.

Yesterday, Sheriff Graeme Napier branded it as a “plain and simple” assault and not just a “proverbial clip around the ear”.

But he took into consideration the former cop’s good record, enthusiasm for the job and the “devastating” impact the incident has had on Martin’s family life.

The sheriff – who questioned why it had taken the Crown nearly three years to bring the case to court – ordered him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work as part of a community payback order.

He said: “You have pled guilty to a serious charge of assault on a person who at the time should have had the protection of the law.

“Your commission of this offence strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system. You know that and you resigned.

“This was no proverbial clip around the ear hole that we used to hear about in days gone past.

“This was an assault, plain and simple.”

But he accepted the assault, which happened on December 17, 2013, had been “out of character” for the father-of-three.

Sheriff Napier added: “He added: “This is one of the most straightforward cases I have come across.

“This was clearly out of character.”

The court heard previously that Martin had been “extremely stressed” before the assault.

As he was struggling to concentrate on paperwork in his office he decided to join two other officers carrying out an arrest warrant.

As the officers pulled up they spotted Smith fleeing – and although not the target of the warrant, Martin knew he was wanted so started to chase him.

When Smith was caught, he struggled on the ground to avoid being cuffed.

In an attempt to “subdue” the prolific car thief, Martin then repeatedly punched his face.

Martin hit him between “four to seven times” in the face, leaving him bleeding heavily from the nose and with a swollen eye.

At last month’s hearing, defence advocate Joe Cahill told the court his client had previous dealings with Smith and knew he would “do anything to evade” arrest.

He said: “He had arrested Mr Smith before and had been present when he had assaulted a policewoman. He knew he would do anything to evade arrest. When he arrived at the scene he was still not cuffed and his legs were flailing about.

“What he did was totally and utterly out of character. He thought he was doing the right thing to subdue this character.”

Martin, whose address was given as care of Police Scotland, refused to comment when leaving court yesterday.

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