Prison warder in court over wrist-lock on clubber
Published: 19 Oct 2013 07:00
Douglas Sillars (41) put Adam Dowd in a punishment lock as he removed him from the Fubar nightclub in Stirling and led him down a corridor and into the street.
Witnesses heard Mr Dowd, a lightly-built 23-year-old mechanical technician, “screaming in pain” and begging to be released as he was marched out of the building with Sillars holding his right arm in the “gooseneck” wristlock.
Sillars was heard to tell Mr Dowd that if he kept screaming he would “give him something to scream about”.
Before leaving him in the street, burly, six-foot-one-tall Sillars swung a blow, described as a “haymaker”, at Mr Dowd, catching him on the side of the face.
It was seen by two women police officers passing in a patrol car.
They stopped, turned round, and spoke to the “upset and quite teary” Dowd.
He was treated at two hospitals for a fractured wrist, and was off work and in plaster for six weeks. A doctor told Stirling Sheriff Court that the pressure on the wrist ligament had been enough to tear a fragment off the bone.
Sillars was arrested the same night.
He admitted to jurors that he had “lost his professionalism” and struck Mr Dowd, but claimed the wrist-lock was applied with “only slight pressure”.
He claimed Mr Dowd had assaulted another bouncer, adding, “Due to his actions it was deemed necessary to restrain him.”
He said he had worked for the SPS for 15 years, and for the last 11 had been a control restraint instructor.
He said that on 18 October 2012 he was doing his other job, as a door steward at the Fubar, when he received a “Red One” warning of a fight on the disco floor.
Jurors were shown video footage of Sillars and another door steward removing Mr Dowd.
Throughout the footage, Sillars is seen holding Mr Dowd’s right wrist in the “gooseneck” lock. Outside the club, he is seen striking Mr Dowd to the side of his head.
Mr Dowd told the court there had been a fight near where he was standing in the club, but he was not involved. He said he was then “rugby tackled” to the floor and Sillars put him in the lock and pulled him back up, saying, “Do you think you can assault a member of staff here and get away with it?”
Mr Dowd, who had been at a friend’s birthday, said he pleaded with Sillars to let his wrist go.
He said, “It was an abnormal pain. From the moment I was pulled up to when I was led out the back and punched I felt like they were trying to break my wrist.
“At no point did I react in any way other than pleading with them to let me go.”
Sillars, whose home in Glenochil Park lies in the shadow of tough Glenochil Prison where he worked, denied assaulting Mr Dowd by seizing him by the arm and twisting his arm, all to his severe injury. He admitted striking him on the head.
At the end of a four day trial, Sheriff William Gilchrist told the jury of nine men and six women that if they considered Sillars’ initial action in restraining Mr Dowd was reasonable they should delete the phrase “seizing him by the arm” from the charge.
But he added that they should leave in “twist his arm” if they decided Sillars then “went beyond what is reasonable and went on to deliberately inflict pain or punishment”.
After deliberating for little over an hour, that was exactly what they did.
Sillars showed no emotion as the guilty verdict, by majority, was announced last Thursday (10 October).
Sentence was deferred for reports, and Sillars was released on bail.
During the trial Sillars claimed he had “put a gooseneck” on Dowd’s wrist because he was “being extremely non-compliant”.
He said, “I was using very slight pressure - it’s just a controlling lock.”
Defence agent Brian Black asked him, “Is it a technique you commonly use in your day job?”
Sillars replied, “It is a technique which we teach. It’s for controlling prisoners who are non-compliant or violent. I am a control restraint instructor with the Scottish Prison Service so I teach these techniques and how to use them.”
Nicola Henderson, prosecuting, described it as “a drastic restraint” and asked, “Do you think it is perfectly acceptable to use Scottish Prison Service restraint techniques on a person who is in a nightclub? This wasn’t a prison - this was the Fubar.”
Sillars said he left the Fubar after the incident as he felt he had been given a “lack of support” from fellow staff.
After the verdict a Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman said, “Any member of staff who is convicted of a crime is immediately subject to investigation under our Code of Conduct. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
Insiders added that prison officers had to get permission from jail bosses for any part-time jobs, and it was “very unlikely” that approval would be given to work as a bouncer.
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