Ex-policeman's tribunal bid is defeated


A long-serving policeman was sacked after he "snapped" and violently attacked a fellow officer with a hole punch, a tribunal heard.

David May, 52, said yesterday that "four years of bullying" and a long-standing and undiagnosed mental condition had caused the assault.

The former police constable in Exeter, who joined the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in 1991, was dismissed for gross misconduct last June.

He failed in his bid to convince an employment tribunal in Exeter that the Force was wrong to sack him and instead should have let him retire on ill health grounds – with full pension rights.

In a frank and shocking statement, Mr May explained how the depressive disorder had plagued his career and led to the attack, during a night shift, in August 2006.

"It was not an act of will and totally out of my control – I was not aware that I had a personality disorder before the incident," he said.

"My work was constantly criticised – I found this frustrating and felt the bosses were just out to get me.

"I was going through paranoia and four years of bullying by this guy."

Mr May did not face any criminal charges for the assault but sought treatment for his illness at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital.

He applied for retirement on ill-health grounds in March 2008 but failed to convince medical experts that he was permanently incapable of duty.

A selected medial practitioner ruled that his disability was temporary.

Mr May was sacked after a misconduct hearing in 2009 – a decision that was upheld by a Chief Constable's review.

He then sued the Force under disability discrimination law, claiming he should never have been disciplined, yesterday claiming to have been "confused about the process"

Representing the force, James Arnold, expressed disbelief that an officer with 17 years' experience of the law could have been so confused.

Mr Arnold said there was no medical evidence that the attack, which left PC Edwards with a large swelling on the head and cuts to the fingers, was "attributable to his disability.

Tribunal judge Paul Housego dismissed Mr May's claim, but sympathised with him, saying that his claim had been limited to a narrow avenue of disability law. After the tribunal, Mr May said he was "upset" but felt he had been given a "fair hearing".
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