Officer who 'manhandled' and wrongly arrested woman for bus fare evasion guilty of assault

A Met Police officer who "manhandled" and wrongly arrested a woman for bus fare evasion has been found guilty of assault.

Perry Lathwood, 50, of East Sussex, assaulted a woman in front of her young son in Croydon, south London, on 21 July last year.

Jocelyn Agyemang was dropping her son off at her mother's house when the incident took place.

Police officers were helping ticket inspectors and after Ms Agyemang got off the bus, she was asked to show she had paid for her journey.

Ms Agyemang said she told the inspector to walk with her as she was in a hurry. Lathwood then walked over and grabbed her to stop her.

At Westminster Magistrates' Court, Deputy Senior District Judge Tan Ikram ruled it was "not necessary" for Lathwood to "grab the woman's arm, arrest her and handcuff her".

He continued: "She was difficult… but there were not reasonable grounds to suggest arrest was necessary.

"The officer made an error of judgment and over reacted. Handcuffing inflamed the situation even further.

"I find you guilty of assault."

Lathwood did not react as the verdict was given.

Judge Ikram said his claims he acted to protect Ms Agyemang's child were "fanciful" and that he "simply did not believe him".

"The officer's evidence lacked all credibility," he said.

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The incident was filmed by onlookers and video shown in court saw Ms Agyemang saying: "Can you get off me, please? Can you get off my arm? You don't understand, I have done nothing wrong."

Lathwood kept holding her and demanded she tapped her Oyster card.

When another officer took the card and confirmed payment had been made, Ms Agyemang's handcuffs were removed and she was de-arrested.

Giving evidence in court, she said she felt "very violated" by the arrest.

"I just felt like [the officers] did not care," Ms Agyemang said. "I just felt a bit degraded because I had not done anything wrong."

Lathwood will be sentenced at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday 14 June.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), who referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service after its own investigation, has said it "will now liaise with the force to progress disciplinary proceedings for the officer".

IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said: "Any use of force by officers should be reasonable, proportionate and justifiable in the circumstances."