Evidence 'did not support a charge' against road rage police officer, prosecutors say
PROSECUTORS decided that there was not enough evidence to charge a police officer who punched a pensioner in a Frampton Cotterell street, breaking his jaw.
The Crown Prosecution Service held two reviews of the evidence against PC Stuart Box – the second after Avon and Somerset police asked them to look again at their initial decision not to prosecute.
Last month the Voice reported that PC Box had resigned, before admitting gross misconduct at a police hearing.
The misconduct panel heard that PC Box had been riding his bike in Church Road when he attacked 70-year-old driver Peter Burgum, who had been driving a car which had passed the off-duty officer.
PC Box had shouted abuse and hit the side of Mr Burgum's car, claiming that the car had passed too close to him.
When Mr Burgum got out of his car and took out his phone, PC Box, who was 44 at the time of the incident in April last year, slapped then punched him to the ground and rode off, hurting Mr Burgum's wife as she tried to stop him leaving the scene.
Avon and Somerset police made an appeal to identify the cyclist and PC Box was only traced after being identified through dashcam footage.
The disciplinary hearing was told that Mr Burgum died soon afterwards "for reasons that were unrelated" but that his final weeks had been spent in pain, and his widow Caroline had continued to suffer “insomnia, nightmares and flashbacks”.
The Voice asked the Crown Prosecution Service, which makes the final decision on whether to charge a suspect when evidence has been gathered, why no charges were brought in the case.
A CPS spokesperson said: “The CPS received a case file from the police and this was reviewed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which sets out the evidential tests that must be met in order for a prosecution to proceed.
"Following the review of the case file, the reviewing CPS prosecutor took the decision that the available evidence did not support a charge.
"Following a request from the police, the case file was subsequently reviewed by a second CPS prosecutor who came to the same decision."
Mr Burgum's daughter Kate said that despite the hearing being told that her father's death was unconnected with the incident, he had "suffered a massive heart attack" after thinking he had seen PC Box.
She said that, while the hearing had been told PC Box believed her father had passed too close when he overtook the bike, Mr Burgum was a retired professional driver who had also been a motorcyclist and had never had an accident or motoring conviction. He had only take his phone out to call 999 rather than trying to film PC Box as reported to the hearing, she said.
Kate added: "The family would like to thank Avon and Somerset Police, the investigating officers and professional standards for their thorough investigation and professionalism throughout."
The hearing in June was told PC Box, who had 23 years' service, would have been sacked for gross misconduct had he not already resigned from Avon and Somerset police,
The force’s head of professional standards, Superintendent Simon Wilstead, publicly apologised to Mrs Burgum and her family and said: “A thorough and proportionate criminal investigation was carried out before the Crown Prosecution Service was presented with the evidence.”
Misconduct panel chair Stephanie Beazley said the former officer "should have known better" and displayed a "disappointing lack of genuine remorse" after the incident, which had affected public confidence in the police.