May 11, 2022 5.15 pm

Lincolnshire Police inspector cleared of A46 ‘road rage’ assault

It was all caught on camera

A Lincolnshire Police inspector has been cleared of assaulting a member of the public following a “road rage” incident between them.

In phone video footage shown to Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, Insp Jonathan Mellor was seen to punch Shane Price in the face and deliberately stamp on his foot which Mr Price had declared as wounded in a work matter.

Mellor also repeatedly swore at Mr Price, telling him: “I’m going to take you to the f***ing ground” and “You’ve been f***ing pulled, haven’t you?”

But Deputy Senior District Judge Tan Ikran, sitting at the trial at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, May 11, told Mellor that he found him not guilty of assault.

He added: “I do not find that the prosecution have disproved you were acting in self-defence.”

Mellor, 52, was on duty when the incident happened alongside the A46 northbound at Aubourn at about 9pm on May 26 last year.

Prosecutor Mark Fielding said the defendant, who was driving his own personal car, was wearing police uniform but was “anonymised” by a zipped-up civilian jacket over the top.

He added: “There appears to have been some driving on the part of the victim, Mr Price, that irritated the defendant because what the defendant did, travelling along the A46, was he photographed Mr Price in his truck.

“That irritated Mr Price.”

In six minutes of footage captured by Mr Price’s wife, who was a front-seat passenger, their truck is seen to catch up with Mellor’s vehicle and then draw alongside it in the outside lane.

Eye contact is made and the couple are heard mouthing to him to pull up ahead, which Mellor acknowledges and points to further up the road.

Mellor’s is the lead vehicle and he chose a slip road to pull up in.

Mr Price got out of the truck and approached Mellor, who was carrying a police radio.

At this point, no conversation can be heard on the footage but Mr Price is seen to point towards his wife in the truck, apparently making clear that their encounter was being filmed.

After a few seconds of chat, Mellor is seen to push Mr Price towards a fence on the grass verge.

Mrs Price then lowered the passenger side window and the men’s conversation could be heard.

Mellor used his radio to ask for back-up and gave his location as “the A1”.

Mr Price then said: “This is the A46, mate.”

Mr Price claimed that he did not know Mellor was a police officer and assumed him to be a security guard. He said at no point did the inspector say who he was or show his badge or warrant card.

Mellor insisted he did declare he was the duty inspector for the west of the county.

Mr Price is heard repeatedly asking the officer to take his hand off his throat.

When Mellor did not alter his hand position – later ruled by the judge to be on the shoulder – Mr Price pushed it away, at which point Mellor punched him.

The defendant said this was because he feared he was going to be assaulted by Mr Price, who had taken a step towards him.

He said the blow and the stamp on Mr Price’s injured foot was to help him regain control of the situation.

The pair then grappled with Mr Price repeatedly shouting: “What are you doing?”

He was then taken to the ground and complained of not being able to breathe as Mellor laid on him.

Mrs Price can be heard on the footage making a 999 call to police to report the assault on her husband.

Mr Price told the court that when further officers arrived they were “laughing and joking” with the inspector.

He was then arrested on suspicion of three offences but no charges were subsequently brought.

Mellor told the court that his punch to Mr Price’s cheek was not delivered with full force.

“It was to shock, not to incapacitate,” he added.

“You lost your temper, is that what happened?” Mellor was asked by his barrister, Alex Menary.

“No, I did not,” he replied.

Mr Menary said to him: “It may be in due course that you will be criticised for swearing at a member of the public. Why did you use that language?”

Mellor replied: “From nearly 30 years of experience, I know it’s better to speak to people in the vernacular they understand.”

The defendant was asked why he had decided to use the emergency button on his radio for the first time in his long career.

He replied: “Because, at the time, I was a 52-year-old man fat man with a heart condition and dealing with someone in their 20s.”

Mellor denied using his mobile phone while driving, saying he had his radio in his hand because he was going to request a Police National Computer check on Mr Price’s vehicle but then “couldn’t be bothered.”

Delivering his verdict, Mr Ikran said he did not find Mr Price to be a “very credible witness”.

He also questioned why Mr Price corrected Mellor over their location when the inspector was calling for officer back-up.

He said to Mellor: “If you were a security guard, as he says, and you were the aggressor and there you are on your radio calling your crew, whoever that crew might be, he made sure that they came to the right place by correcting you.

“I just wonder whether someone who thought they were the victim of an attack would actually put it right because on the evidence I see in the video your crew would have gone to the wrong place.

“I have to say that was a significant piece of evidence.”