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Watford police officer punched drunk man four times

A former police officer who punched a man in the face four times while on duty has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Prosecutors said William Owen was in Watford, when he swung a drunk person into a wall, swore, and asked him who was the "big man now eh?".

The 31-year-old, of Stationers Place, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, was found guilty of common assault.

He received a 12-month prison team, suspended for two years.

The former officer was also told at Peterborough Crown Court to complete 160 hours of unpaid work and pay £750 compensation to the victim.

Jurors had additionally found him guilty of administering a noxious substance after he sprayed PAVA - a synthetic type of pepper spray - at his victim at close range.

'Fabricating'

In a statement read by prosecutor Christopher Harper at sentencing, the victim said he had become "fearful" of interactions with the police after the incident on 7 November 2021.

The "blame cannot lie solely" on Owen, he added, and said that "Herts Police needs to take some responsibility" for the "excess force used to detain individuals".

"I do not believe he is a bad person and I would like to think it was an isolated incident," the victim said about Owen.

Mr Harper also read a statement from the former officer, in which he accused investigators of "fabricating" evidence.

"I believe my force to be proportionate, legal and absolutely necessary in the circumstances I was presented with," he said.

"I have been criminalised by the same justice system I have dedicated the best part of five years of my life to."

Rory Keene, defending, said Owen had faced "significant tribulation and pain and punishment" since the incident.

"Previous avenues of work are no longer open to him," Mr Keene explained.

Mr Keene said the incident lasted for 17 seconds and involved a foot chase when the victim tried to run away.

"What happened here was not premeditated or planned," he claimed.

'Flawed belief'

Judge Sean Enright said the defendant "still has a valuable contribution to make" and concluded: "What took place was in the spur of the moment."

But he warned that the comment "'who's the big man now?' says it all".

He said Owen's note handed to the court "smacks of anger" of a "young man who has fallen short of his high standards".

Separately, at a Hertfordshire Police misconduct hearing on Tuesday, Owen was added to the College of Policing barred list, which means he cannot serve on any force again.

Chief Constable Charlie Hall added: "He shows no acceptance that he has done wrong, that he is the one convicted of two criminal offences, no remorse for his actions, just a flawed belief that his use of force was proportionate, legal and absolutely necessary.

"I find this incredible. That's not how I see it, not how former colleagues saw it, and not how the jury saw it."

Mr Hall said a colleague reported Owen to Hertfordshire Police, not the victim.


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