Woman found guilty of assault at court

Ex-officer not guilty in same incident

Melissa Jane Mattison was fined $250 last week after Magistrate Nova Hall found her guilty of assaulting an auxiliary constable working as a court security guard.

In the same trial, the magistrate found former K-9 police officer Paul Dewing not guilty of threatening violence and disorderly conduct.

Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey had asked the court not to record a conviction against Mattison, citing her previous good character, the emotion of the moment and the long period of enormous stress she had been under before the incident.

Instead of being arrested, she should have been sat down, given a cup of tea and comforted, Mr. Dixey suggested.

In reply, the magistrate advised that the defendant had seven days in which to appeal conviction and sentence.

A written judgment summarised the circumstances leading to Mattison’s charge of assaulting police. On 11 July 2008, around 2pm, a Grand Court trial concluded in Court 5 in Kirk House. The trial arose out of an incident in which Dewing had been seriously injured, having been hit by a motor vehicle. The driver was found not guilty of dangerous or careless driving.

Both Dewing and Mattison were present for the verdict.

Afterwards, Dewing did not stand for the adjournment and was told by Justice Priya Levers to do so, the magistrate concluded after hearing evidence. She accepted he slammed a dog chain against a partition and ‘stormed out of the courtroom, hitting the entry/exit door with such force that it made a noise.’

The magistrate also found as a fact that Mattison loudly shouted ‘Paul’ at Dewing while he was exiting and while the judge was still in the room.

Auxiliary Constable Gerry Campbell, who said the judge had requested his presence in the courtroom, said to Mattison, ‘Miss, please be quiet’ but she continued to shout ‘Paul’ and go towards the door.

The magistrate found that Mattison glanced back at the officer who was calling to her. ‘She then pushed the door hard, on AC Campbell as he was coming out the door. I find that the door slammed on his left shoulder, causing him pain. I find that Ms Mattison was deliberately ignoring AC Campbell as he tried to call to her. I find that the actions of Ms Mattison were deliberately done.’

The magistrate accepted the evidence of Attorney Stacy Parke who was out in the corridor and would have been facing the parties as they exited the courtroom. Other witnesses would have been hampered by their location inside the courtroom.

The charges against Dewing arose from what happened after he left the area and then went back to look for Mattison. The magistrate said he proceeded to go to where she was sitting crying, but AC Michael Chamberlain said he could not talk to her because she was under arrest.

The two men had a ‘conversation’ during which Dewing allegedly threatened the other man and used profanity.

A tape recording exhibited through Caymanian Compass reporter James Dimond did not reveal any profanity, but there were inaudible portions. The charges against Dewing were based entirely on the testimony of AC Chamberlain who, the magistrate said, did not appear to be fabricating it.

‘However, all the evidence having been considered, I find that while it is probable that the defendant Dewing used profanity to AC Chamberlain, it is equally probable that he did not. Being uncertain, and unable to choose between either of the versions, I must resolve my doubts in the defendant Dewing’s favour.’

In mitigation before Mattison’s sentencing, Mr. Dixey said she had been in a relationship with Dewing since 2006. In March 2007 he was the victim of a terrible accident, being hit by a car while walking his dogs. The dogs died. Dewing was airlifted to Miami and given a 30 per cent chance to live. Mattison supported him throughout his recovery.

When the driver who hit him was acquitted, it was a very emotional moment, Mr. Dixey submitted. Mattison never denied that the door struck the officer, but she had been pursuing her partner, who was obviously in distress.