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Police officer loses appeal against sacking

A police officer fired last year for use of excessive force during the arrest of a teenager has lost his appeal against dismissal.

Oswin Pereira was terminated from the Bermuda Police Service after he was accused of turning off his body camera and hitting a suspect with a baton after a high-speed chase in May 2017.

He was tried in Magistrates’ Court for unlawfully wounding the teen, and found not guilty in 2018 after arguing that the baton strike had been accidental.

But Mr Pereira was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct in January 2020, after a ruling by the police conduct panel.

The disciplinary tribunal found that his account of the incident, in which another officer joined in the arrest of the motorcycle rider, “appears to be wholly inconsistent with the body camera footage”.

The panel’s decision was overturned last August after a successful appeal to the Public Service Commission.

Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, then challenged the PSC’s finding at a judicial review in the Supreme Court before Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams.

Police won their case in February and the PSC decision was quashed.

Victoria Greening, Mr Pereira’s lawyer, told the Court of Appeal last month that the Supreme Court had overstepped its authority in making the ruling.

Ms Greening, who represented Mr Pereira since he appealed to the PSC, argued that the court could only overturn the commission’s ruling if it had gone against the law.

In the judgment, written by Justice of Appeal Geoffrey Bell, the court found that Mr Pereira’s conduct during the arrest still amounted to an “operational dishonesty”.

The court cited case law demonstrating the need for “the imposition of what may appear to be a harsh sanction arises from the requirement to maintain public confidence in the police service”.

Justice of Appeal Maurice Kay agreed, along with Sir Christopher Clarke, the President of the Court of Appeal, and the appeal was dismissed.

In a statement, the BPS welcomed the ruling.

Mr Corbishley said it marked the second time the BPS faced an appeal over the matter.

He said the court had found the police conduct panel, chaired by Alan Dunch, had been correct.

Mr Corbishley said the case had generated “much publicity”.

He added: “It is essential the public have trust and confidence in police officers and it is right that the BPS sought to defend the conduct panel’s original decision to dismiss Mr Pereira without notice which has today been upheld by the Court of Appeal.”

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