In a recent blog, I recounted the case of my client (identified as Robert) who successfully sued Hertfordshire Police for damages of £100,000 following an incident in which his leg was broken by a Police Officer who struck him three times with ‘overarm’ baton blows – twice whilst Robert was in fact being held by two other Officers (albeit that he was resisting being pulled out of a car by them) – and for a third time after he had been pulled out of the car and was lying on the ground, leaving Robert permanently disabled. It was a brutal assault upon an unarmed man who, whilst attempting to resist being pulled out of his car, was not being aggressive (rather he was in a state of shock at an over the top Police stop which had already resulted in his car windows been shattered and Robert himself being doused with PAVA gas) and was not offering any violence to the Officers involved.
At least that was my client’s account; it is one which I believe, and I believe you will too, if you have watched the video of the incident, which is embedded in my previous blog.
The one Officer who gave evidence to the contrary – and who accused my client of ‘kicking out’ aggressively at him was – perhaps unsurprisingly – the Officer who delivered the baton strikes. This Officer was PC Nicholas Musto.
It was always my view that PC Musto, who in the evidence he gave at the trial of Robert’s claim highlighted his former career as an actor, was lying about the ‘kicking’ by Robert in a cynical attempt to justify the brutal force he used, and was also grossly exaggerating any risk posed to the Officers in the incident by a torch in the car, or the possibility of Robert using his car as a ‘battering ram’.
Certainly, the trial Judge ruled that Robert had not been attempting to kick any of the Officers, that the presence of the torch in the car had “been given an importance after the incident” and rejected “any genuine concern that he [Robert] could use the car as some sort of lethal weapon”… although she stopped short of finding that PC Musto had told deliberate falsehoods.
I can now report that PC Nicholas Musto was recently sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for the crime of misconduct in public office. It transpires that PC Musto had been conducting an affair with a female victim of crime, a vulnerable woman with mental health problems, whom he met through the course of his policing duties for over ten years between 2007 – 2018. During this time Musto lied to his superiors, denying in 2013 that he was involved with the woman. The truth was eventually revealed when the woman turned to the Police for help in 2018 and the IOPC became involved. Amongst the evidence she gave was that PC Musto would regularly visit her in uniform, when he was on duty, for casual sex.
This type of ‘sex-ploitation’ of vulnerable female victims of crime, or other vulnerable women (including minors) encountered by Officers in the course of their duties, is sadly a real and present danger in our society. I have represented numerous victims of such crimes by Police officers, and you can read about some of their cases here and here.
It goes without saying that for a Police Officer to exploit the honour and privilege of his position, and the authority which it bestows upon him, to enter into sexual relationships with vulnerable women (often the victims of previous domestic abuse and/or suffering from mental health problems) is a gross abuse of power, and not merely a dereliction of duty but an active inversion of it.
PC Musto must have known that what he was doing was wrong, but shamelessly lied to his superiors and fellow Officers to cover it up. It would hardly seem surprising, therefore, that he would be able to bring himself to tell lies about the victim of his own physical assault does it?
How terribly ironic now are the words with which PC Musto boasted in the statement he gave to the County Court, when attempting to frustrate Robert’s legitimate claim for compensation –
“I have always had a strong sense of what was right and wrong even as a child.”
In the same statement he also said that he had chosen to remain a ‘front line’ Police Constable in order to “best serve the communities that I police”, and furthermore went on to assert “I am proud of the fact that at no time has any substantiated complaint been made against me.” With hindsight, we can now see that his ‘pride’ evidently lay in the fact that – at that time – his ongoing misconduct with the vulnerable woman had not been ‘found out’.
PC Musto may not have faced criminal justice for what he did to Robert, but the good news is that he is now off the streets and following a misconduct hearing, dishonourably discharged from the Police force, and so will never again be in a position to exploit victims of crime for sex, nor gratify himself with the kind of unlawful violence he unleashed upon Robert.