Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 15:44 UK

Vigilante attack policeman jailed

Patrick Lavelle
Lavelle admitted assault and perverting the course of justice

A policeman has been jailed for a year for beating a man he wrongly thought had glassed his son.

Former Det Con Patrick Lavelle used the police national computer to access the details of his son's attacker.

He then broke into Andrew Harrop's address in Preston and punched a man asleep on the sofa - but Harrop was out and the victim was his flatmate.

Lavelle, 48, admitted at Liverpool Crown Court to charges of assault and perverting the course of justice.

Lavelle, who attends Alcoholics Anonymous, had been intending to attack Harrop, 22, but in fact beat up his flatmate Michael Jones.

Despite Mr Jones protesting his innocence, the court heard how Lavelle would not stop hitting him until another flatmate managed to wrestle the disgraced officer off.

Put your hands up to glassing my mate. If you don't we are coming down to sort you out

Stephen Keaney, defendent

Mr Jones suffered concussion and extensive facial bruising.

Lavelle, who will be in protective custody in jail, left the flat and phoned Harrop, threatening him to admit the attack on his son.

Just an hour later Lavelle enlisted drinking buddy Stephen Keaney, 43, of Malthouse Way, Penwortham, to also phone Harrop to scare him.

Martin Reid, prosecuting, said: "Keaney told Mr Harrop: 'Plead guilty, put your hands up to glassing my mate. If you don't we are coming down to sort you out'."

The attack on Mr Jones happened during the morning of New Year's Eve last year.

The day after, Lavelle, a married father-of-three from Bramble Court, Penwortham, realised a complaint had been made at Preston police station and he admitted the offence to bosses.

His barrister Anthony O'Donohue described his client's behaviour as "an aberration".

He said: "This is a great pity that Patrick Lavelle, two years from retirement and a distinguished career in the police, is being sentenced for these crimes."

'Own revenge'

He argued that as well as his son being attacked, Lavelle's daughter was attacked and sustained a broken arm on the same night and the mental stress had caused him to act out of character.

Keaney admitting perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail, suspended for two years.

Harrop, who caused a permanent scar to the officer's son's face, was given a community order after admitting the assault earlier this month, the court heard.

Jailing Lavelle, Judge Mark Brown said: "You were a serving police officer who took the law into your own hands.

"You have lost your job, suffered considerable financial loss and also brought disgrace upon yourself.

"Anyone who abuses his position as a police officer also brings disgrace on the uniform they wear and undermine public confidence in the system."

He added: "The public look to the police to set an example and you more than most should have realised that taking the law into your own hands is totally unacceptable.

"Having worked for years to make sure the ends of justice were met you decided to wreak your own revenge."

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