Officer guilty of assault

A POLICE officer has been given a three-month suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of assaulting a Felxistowe tugboat skipper who then collapsed and died.

A POLICE officer has been given a three-month suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of assaulting a Felxistowe tugboat skipper who then collapsed and died.

Pc Gary Jay, 41, now faces an internal investigation into his conduct after being found guilty of assaulting Ronnie O'Reilly, 48, who was later found to be suffering from heart disease.

During a five-day trial at Southend Magistrates' Court, district judge Kevin Gray was told that Jay had entered Mr O'Reilly's home in Clacton after hearing him chastise his 12-year-old son from outside and assaulted both him and his wife, Moira, 43.

Prosecutors said the officer entered the terraced house and pushed Mr and Mrs O'Reilly. Shortly after being pushed, Mr O'Reilly, a father of three, collapsed.

Mrs O'Reilly broke down in tears as the verdict was read out and after the hearing she praised the detective who led the investigation.

“Justice has been done,” said Mrs O'Reilly, who had told the court how Jay's manner had been “bullying”.

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She said: “We later found out that Ronnie had chronic heart disease. We would have lost him in the near future,” she added.

During the trial, the court heard that Jay failed to help Mr O'Reilly, who worked out of Felixstowe for 30 years, as he lay on the kitchen floor, gasping for air.

Mrs O'Reilly told the court that as she desperately struggled to resuscitate her husband. Jay, who gave his address as Essex Police headquarters in Chelmsford, simply leaned against the worktop with his arms folded and told her to ring an ambulance.

Judge Gray said a member of the public would probably not be jailed for pushing. But he said that fact that Jay was a policeman made the offence more serious.

Essex Police said Jay, who had been on “restricted duties” since being charged, would face an internal disciplinary inquiry and his lawyers said there was “no way” he would keep his job.

Jay denied assault. He said Mr O'Reilly was “angry and aggressive” and the youngster was “petrified”.

As well as the suspended prison sentence, Jay was ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.

He was found guilty on two counts of assault and the incident will now be reviewed against the Police Misconduct Regulations in order to identify any breaches of the codes of conduct.

Jay was also ordered to pay £2,000 prosecution costs.

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