West Yorkshire PC who floored a Huddersfield hotel guest with a ‘choke hold’ to face a misconduct hearing after the man’s death

A police officer is to attend a misconduct hearing into allegations he used a ‘choke hold’ when arresting a man who later died.

PC Anthony Spiteri, a West Yorkshire police officer, allegedly deliberately applied a chokehold to Roberto Villa’s neck during a struggle at the Edgerton Hotel on New North Road in Huddersfield on December 4, 2018. It is alleged that the officer used too much force during the arrest.

Mr Villa, 37, from Bath Street, Huddersfield, and from Italy, fell ill shortly afterwards and died in hospital. PC Spiteri is due to attend a misconduct hearing on June 9, which is expected to last seven days.

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The notice of hearing was posted on the West Yorkshire Police website which states: “On 12/04/2018 while on duty PC Spiteri and a colleague attended at the hotel Edgerton in Huddersfield.

“Officers were responding to a ‘999’ call that had been made by the receptionist at the Edgerton Hotel who reported assault and threatening behavior by a previous guest, Mr Villa. Mr Villa was subsequently arrested and started to put up resistance.

“A struggle ensued which resulted in PC Spiteri taking Mr. Villa to the ground in order to restrain him.”

The statement goes on to say that the Competent Authority alleges that PC Spiteri used excessive force as follows: a) Deliberately applying a chokehold to Mr. Villa’s neck. This technique carried a high risk of serious injury and should not have been used and b) whether the initial application of the choke hold was reasonable or not, it was held in place too long.

It is further alleged that PC Spiteri failed to exercise due diligence in carrying out his duties and responsibilities. In August last year, it was reported that the Crown Prosecution Service refused to take legal action against a police officer accused of using too much force when arresting Mr Villa.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) revealed that following its investigation, which concluded in May 2020, it forwarded a file to the CPS for it to consider charges against an officer. The CPS later confirmed that it would not be pursuing criminal charges.

The IOPC Fund said last year that five other officers had misconduct cases relating to their duties and responsibilities. After Mr. Villa passed away, friends and family paid their respects. He was described as a caring man who didn’t take life too seriously.

Mr Villa suffered from mental health issues following the death of his English mother, Lynda Villa. He had been living at the Edgerton Hotel for several weeks. Friends described him as “kind, funny and generous”.

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Kasandra J. Stone