AN officer who was present when a prisoner lost the top of three fingertips on a custody cell toilet said he felt colleagues trying to restrain him initially acted unnecessarily “until the goalposts moved”.

Five officers are facing a gross misconduct hearing after the Romanian national was injured in the custody suite at Colchester Police Station.

Det Con James Pamment was coincidentally in the cells when the man – being referred to as Mr S – was seen with his foot in the cell toilet and was loudly shouting.

After he and PC Richard Philipsen made unsuccessful attempts to communicate with him, other officers were called to the area and tasked with removing his foot from the toilet.

They moved him easily, but within seconds another struggle ensued.

In an interview with the Independent Office for Police Conduct, Mr Pamment said he thought their actions at this stage were unnecessary.

Asked to explain what he meant by that he said: “Our instruction was to go in, remove his foot and make sure he wasn’t injured - that was achieved.”

CCTV was shown of Mr Pamment and the other officers in the cells where he was speaking to his colleagues and told one what was happening at that stage was a waste of time.

Mr Pamment then spoke to temporary sergeant Marcus Buckley, who went to check with a custody sergeant about their next steps. They were told the prisoner was to be put in the middle of the cell for constant supervision.

By this stage Mr S had grabbed onto the toilet and officers tried to remove him. He eventually lost the top of his fingers after the 2015 incident.

In his interview, Mr Pamment said the “goalposts had now been moved” and he had to be put in a different position.

In his evidence, he said: “The initial brief was to get his foot out of the toilet and the second action was to get him on constants (supervision) in the middle of the cell.”

Mr Pamment tried to speak to the prisoner using his first name and he initially reacted positively but within seconds was back in an agitated state.

He said there was a constant flow of effective communication between officers when they were trying to remove the man from the toilet.

Mr S lost the top of three fingers on his left hand after the incident in 2015 and Mr Pamment described his injuries as being completely unforeseen.

Insp Christopher Tyler, Mr Buckley, PC Nicholas Pulham, Mr Philipsen and PC Joseph Hawthorne all deny gross misconduct.

Mr Pamment was also investigated and received management action – words of advice from a chief inspector- about his role in the incident.

  • The hearing continues.