A man who was struck by a baton when he was arrested as a 15-year-old has won £2,000 compensation from the police.

John Whelan, who is now 22, took legal against against Sussex Police claiming he was mistreated when he was arrested seven years ago.

He claimed compensation at Brighton County Court for assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

After a seven-day hearing, the jury ruled he had been assaulted during his arrest in December 1997 when he was hit by the baton. But the panel of four men and four women rejected his other claims.

The court heard police were called out when residents complained about a group of youths causing a late-night disturbance following a disco at St Richard's Community Centre, in Egmont Road, Hove.

PC Andrew Salmon said he hit Mr Whelan with his baton after the teenager pushed him from behind as he tried to disperse the group.

He and other officers told the jury Mr Whelan was arrested for the push but was restrained and handcuffed because he was struggling and swearing.

The jury decided PC Andrew Salmon used unreasonable force when he struck the teenager with his baton.

Mr Whelan, of Portland Road, Hove, told the court how he was left crying and in shock from the pain when he was hit with the weapon across his buttocks.

He said he had decided to go home to avoid any trouble but he alleged he was struck without warning as he walked away from the scene. He told the court: "I was no threat. I was on my way home. I cannot think of any reason why he hit me."

He claimed he was slammed on to a car bonnet, handcuffed so tightly he could not move his hands and thrown into the back of a police car. He said at Hove police station he was dragged through the custody suite and dropped on to the floor of the cell where three officers knelt on his legs and back to search him. The court heard Mr Whelan was released the next day and later charged with resisting arrest and assaulting PC Salmon. But he was acquitted by magistrates at Brighton Youth Court in 1998.

During the latest hearing, the police were accused of colluding together to lie about what happened that night. They alleged Mr Whelan was drunk or high on drugs which affected his behaviour when he was arrested.

He was also accused of taking the legal action to get his own back on the police for humiliating him by arresting him in front of his friends.

Judge Jonathan Simpkiss said the jury had found PC Salmon had over-reacted in circumstances where the officer felt threatened.

He said: "The jury clearly did not feel the baton strike was justified and I agree. It could be said PC Salmon had gone over the top. I do not consider there was malice."

After the hearing Sussex Police civil claims manager Brian Welfare said: "Without minimising the assault on Mr Whelan, the important issue is the honesty and integrity of the officers has been upheld by the jury and the judge."