January 15, 2020
A police officer was left with her ear ringing “like a fire alarm going off” when she was allegedly assaulted by a protester’s voice through a megaphone, a court has heard.
Protester On Trial For Assaulting PC With His Voice Through A Megaphone
James Farrar, 51, was charged with two counts of assault by beating on an emergency worker after he used the loudhailer near to Sergeant James Lewis and Constable Ann Spinks on March 4 last year.
Prosecutor Terence Woods told jurors that while there was no physical beating, using the megaphone in proximity to the Metropolitan Police officers was an “unlawful application of force”.
Giving evidence, PC Spinks said Farrar “blasted” his voice into her left ear through the megaphone, causing tinnitus for a few days.
Farrar, chairman of the United Private Hire Drivers’ branch of the IWGB union, had organised a weekly Parliament Square demonstration against Transport for London for exempting black cabs from the congestion charge but enforcing it for Uber and minicab drivers.
Southwark Crown Court heard officers with body worn cameras including Sgt Lewis and PC Spinks were told to enter the main body of the protest after some demonstrators climbed on to a flatbed truck.
PC Spinks, who was acting as a liaison officer between the demonstrators and the police, said Farrar had been warned not to use the megaphone at ear level prior to the alleged assault, after an incident with Sgt Lewis.
She said: “Mr Farrar was still shouting through his megaphone and, during that time he’s shouting, into my left ear came the sound of his voice.
“I told him he had just blasted into my ear and said he had been warned about that and said you can damage people’s hearing shouting through those.”
PC Spinks used her hand to show jurors how close the cone of Farrar’s megaphone was to her head, agreed to be approximately one foot away.
She continued: “I told PC Wayne Tebboth that [Farrar] had blasted the megaphone into my left ear causing ringing, tinnitus, like a fire alarm going off in your ear.
“My ear at that time had gone bright red and was quite hot to touch.
“The initial ringing in my ear was still happening towards the end of that day and it wasn’t as bad as it had initially been, probably about two or three days after.”
Jurors were told PC Spinks had been diagnosed with a hearing problem several decades ago, leading her to now wear hearing aids in both ears.
Woods said: “I think it is right to say that you many years before had seen somebody about your hearing.”
PC Spinks replied: “Yes. I was told that by the time you’re 50, 55, your hearing will be significantly less than it is now.”
Jurors were later shown footage of PC Spinks standing next to Farrar using the megaphone after he had been asked to lower the megaphone from ear level by Sgt Lewis.
Icah Peart QC, defending, said: “There was no concern on your face at how he was using his megaphone. You couldn’t be much closer to him, could you.
“It’s always going to be at ear level because it’s going to be at mouth level.”
The court heard that shortly after the incident, PC Spinks described her hearing as if she had been at a loud rock concert.
Peart said: “During that protest, there were all manner of equipment deployed to make noise.
“That’s what the demonstration was like, a loud rock concert. You can’t attribute the ringing in your ear simply because you’ve chosen to stand in front of Mr Farrar’s megaphone.”
“Not specifically, no,” PC Spinks replied.
Farrar, of Seymour Road, Bordon, Hampshire, denies the two charges of assault.
The trial continues.Related... Five Things I've Learned About Surviving Tinnitus Uber Received More Than 3,000 US Sexual Assault Reports In 2018
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