Former police officer who tried to cover up drink-drive crash loses appeal

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A former policeman who tried to cover up a drink-driving episode has lost his bid to overturn a conviction for intent to pervert the course of justice.

Alfred David Beattie was jailed for six months for actions after drinking half a bottle of wine and crashing into a tree in April 2015, the Court of Appeal heard.

A serving officer at the time, he had returned to the vehicle to damage it with a screwdriver in an attempt to make it look like it had been stolen.

Beattie argued evidence from a police interview should not have been admitted at trial.

Central to his appeal was a claim that he should have been treated as mentally vulnerable under a Code of Practice for the Detention, Treatment and Questioning of Persons by Police Officers (Code C).

But the court agreed with the trial judge’s conclusion that there had been no breach of the code, and held that his charge to the jury had been “scrupulously fair”.

Beattie, whose age and address were not disclosed, had lost control of the car as he drove to his girlfriend’s home.

He left the vehicle at the scene of the crash and walked home, believing he did not need to report the accident to the police as no-one else was involved.

The court heard he then drank more alcohol “to calm himself” and then decided to go back to the car with the screwdriver.

When police called at his home the following day he told them he had parked the vehicle outside his house the previous evening and did not go out in it again.

He also claimed the screwdriver found inside it did not belong to him.

Following further reflection Beattie contacted his brother-in-law, who was also a police officer, and went to Lisburn PSNI Station where he was arrested and cautioned.

Assessments were carried out on him by a custody sergeant and forensic medical officer.

He was noted to be upset, shaking and crying, but following examination considered fit for detention and interview.

At his original trial the judge identified no reason to exclude his interview evidence.

During the appeal Beattie claimed the failure to provide an appropriate adult for the police questioning was contrary to the requirements of Code C.

But the Court of Appeal ruled that the forensic medical officer was able to deal with concerns about his vulnerability, with the custody record showing he communicated this directly to the custody sergeant.

Dismissing the challenge against conviction, senior judges confirmed: “The trial judge’s conclusion that there was no breach of Code C was unimpeachable and his charge to the jury was scrupulously fair.”