Police Officer Who Headbutted Driver Is Finally Sacked

Published on 22 March 2021 by Dimitri

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Last modified 22 March 2021

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Victim received numerous anonymous phone calls telling him to drop the case or his life won’t be worth living.

Violent, Mark Knights.

A violent Derbyshire police officer has finally been dismissed from his job after he was convicted of assaulting a member of the public while on duty.

Mark Knights’ policing career is in ruins after he was sacked from his role as Constable during a Derbyshire Constabulary Special Case Hearing held today (Friday, March 19).

The hearing was told how his actions in November when he violently assaulted a member of public following a traffic row, were “wholly unacceptable” for a serving police officer.

The decision comes just months after Knights, 34, was found guilty of assault at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court following a two-day trial in December last year.

The court heard how Matlock-based PC Knights told victim, Ben Joynes, to “fuck off”, called him a “fat cunt” and then headbutted and handcuffed him after Mr Joynes said he was unable to move his car to let a police van through.

The incident happened in Newbridge Road in Ambergate near Belper, Derbyshire on November 21 2019. It happened while Knights and a colleague were transporting prisoners to custody.

Mr Joynes, whose young son was in the car at the time, sustained a cut lip from the assault and was mentally shaken up.

PC Knights was given a six-month curfew order by the courts. And now Derbyshire Constabulary has completed its own investigation into the incident.

The Special Case Hearing saw PC Knights answer an allegation that his conduct amounted to a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour for ‘Discreditable Conduct’, contrary to the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012, in that he received a criminal conviction for common assault.

It is also alleged the conviction of a serving officer could potentially undermine public confidence in Derbyshire policing and policing as a whole.

At the hearing PC Knights denied his conviction amounted to gross misconduct.

He told the hearing headbutting Mr Joynes was his way of acting in self-defence during the heated confrontation.

Knights said: “The conviction is irrefutable, there’s no denying that.

“The use of foul language on the day – I have hold my hands up from day one. It was completely inappropriate, unprofessional. I regret that and I apologise to Mr Joynes.

“But when it got to the point when I headbutted him, I still maintain that I felt at that stage, genuinely, that I was going to be assaulted.

“The headbutt is a recognised technique in the police manual.

“I do feel that the word headbutt does have negative connotations attached to it. It sounds terrible. But I did do it in self-defence.”

Knights added that he didn’t appeal against his conviction due to stress and family reasons.

However, the hearing’s independent legal chair Chris Haward – who serves as Chief Constable for Lincolnshire Police – concluded Knight’s conviction was indeed a breach of the Act and said dismissal was justified.

He then later issued Knights with instant dismissal, stating a final written warning would not be enough given his actions had undermined public confidence with Derbyshire Constabulary.

Mr Haward said: “I consider this conduct is such a serious breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour that a dismissal would be justified.

“This was a serious act of misconduct. Had his behaviour been different (at the time) the assault would have been entirely avoided.

“A criminal conviction is a fundamental breach of the trust of a police officer and seriously damages the reputation of the force.”

Mr Haward added it was unacceptable for a serving officer to enforce the law but then break the law himself – even more so while on duty.

Speaking in December, father-of-three Mr Joynes revealed to Derbyshire Live he had received death threats over the whole incident and had found life tough to cope with.

“It’s been the worst thing that has happened to me in my whole life,” he said.

“It was like being headbutted by a vicar. It was the last thing you would expect from a serving officer. He knew nothing about me – I could have been an MP, a police officer, surgeon. It just happened totally out of the blue, he had a road rage.

“I have had numerous anonymous phone calls telling me to drop this case or my life won’t be worth living.”

After the hearing, Deputy Chief Constable Kate Meynell of Derbyshire police said: “We expect our officers to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times and treat the public with respect.

“The officer failed to meet these expectations and has been dismissed. The public has a right to expect the highest standards of conduct from those delivering their policing service and the force will take appropriate action as necessary to uphold those standards.”

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