A police force spent more than £300,000 trying to stop an officer coming back to work after he was jailed for dragging a woman prisoner across a floor and throwing her into a cell.
Sergeant Mark Andrews was jailed for six months in 2010 for assaulting Pamela Somerville, 60, but had his conviction quashed following an appeal.
Wiltshire Police then embarked on an expensive legal battle to keep him away from the force after an appeals tribunal ruled that he should be reinstated to his £36,000-a-year job.
Ms Somerville was arrested in July 2008 after she was found asleep in her car near her home in Colerne, Wiltshire, following a row with her partner.
She was detained after failing to provide a sample for a breath test but the charges were later dropped.
Horrific CCTV footage captured 6ft 3ins former soldier Sgt Andrews dragging Ms Somerville across the floor of Melksham Police Station.
The officer is then seen throwing 5ft 2ins Ms Somerville – who weighs just eight stone – onto the floor of a cell.
Sgt Andrews, 40, was later arrested and found guilty of ABH on Ms Somerville in a hearing at Oxford Magistrates Court in July 2010.
He was sentenced to six months in prison but lodged an appeal at Oxford Crown Court.
The conviction was overturned in November 2010, with the appeal judge ruling that Sgt Andrews did not intend to throw Ms Somerville in the cell.
A month later, Wiltshire police sacked Sgt Andrews from the force because of his behaviour, but a year later a five-day Police Appeals Tribunal over turned their decision and ruled that he should be handed his job back.
Judges then rejected a judicial review sought by Wiltshire Police in October 2012 and the father-of-two came back to work on backroom duties.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that between July 2008 and April 2013 the force spent £302,924 on external lawyers and consultants for legal advice on the case.
Angus Macpherson, Wiltshire’s police and crime commissioner, defended the spend.
“There was clear legal advice to the effect that there was a reasonable prospect of success,” he said.
“Any such course of action requires careful though, not least because of the sums of money involved.
“If such a case was to arise in the future, a key factor in reaching a decision would be to determine what was in the best interests of the public. It was the same consideration that applied in this case.”
Sgt Andrews is now back at work but has limited public contact.
Speaking after the horrific incident, Ms Somerville – who had to have stitches on a gash above her eye – slammed Sgt Andrews as “utterly barbaric”.
She said: “I still find it hard to watch the images of me staggering to my feet with blood pouring from a head wound because I can remember how terrified I was.
“It seems utterly barbaric that an innocent person could be treated in such a horrific and violent way and then left alone.
“I could have died. What happened to me was extraordinary, terrifying, and no one should ever be treated in the same way again.
“My vision is still affected. It’s as if I am looking through a cloud. And the whole of the left side of my face is now lower than the right, like a stroke victim.”