A judge has criticised the police after a man was acquitted over an altercation with officers - during which he was violently manhandled.

Jurors at Reading Crown Court deliberated for less than an hour on March 6 before clearing Samuel Mason, 30, on two counts of assaulting an emergency worker.

The charges related to an incident on April 24, 2021, during which Mr Mason was wrestled to the ground by arresting officers and had PAVA spray - an irritant similar to pepper spray - used against him.

On the day in question, he had been part of a group of men stopped by police while travelling in a van through the village of Datchet.

Drugs were found on one of the other men, and officers alleged that Mr Mason tried to flee the scene - leading to an escalation.

The defence barrister in the case, Rachel Paine, highlighted a number of discrepancies in police accounts of the events.

Police body-worn camera footage from the day did not show Mr Mason running from the area, as officers claimed.

The charges against the defendant stemmed from allegations he was violent towards officers, and held one by the neck - but no footage was produced at trial to verify this.

Mrs Paine told jurors: "You will have spotted there was a gaping hole here: no assault captured on the footage."

Allegedly in response to this, officers held Mr Mason down, with one deploying PAVA spray against him. The defendant claims that this left him with injuries to his arms.

Prosecution barrister James Nash told the court that Mr Mason - himself a Datchet resident - raised his voice at officers, and threatened to punch them.

The prosecutor shot back at any suggestion that the police had been dishonest, stating: "Those officers are not lying. They have a lot to lose, and nothing to gain."

But Mrs Paine described the force used against her client as 'unlawful'.

She said: "This is unlawful force being used by the police. This is excessive force being used by the police. You have the right to defend yourself."

After Mr Mason was acquitted, Judge Matthew Turner warned police that they needed to stick to use-of-force policy when making arrests, so as not to escalate situations.

The judge told officers in the case: "Those protocols need to be followed."