Police officer 'attacked by 40-strong mob after he told teenage girl to pick up burger wrapper'

08:10 by Editor · 2 Post a comment on AAWR

A policeman told yesterday how he was attacked by a mob after asking a schoolgirl to pick up a burger wrapper.

PC Anthony Smith was surrounded by up to 40 people after confronting the teenager in a shopping precinct.

The officer was grabbed by the throat from behind and pulled to the ground before being kicked and stamped on, a court was told.

While PC Smith was targeted by the crowd, one of the girl's female friends grappled with his colleague, PC Perry Lathwood, repeatedly punching him in the face.

The 15-year- old friend then jumped on PC Lathwood's back and bit his shoulder, inflicting a wound through his protective vest, Croydon Crown Court heard.

The girl, who cannot be named because of her age, and two men went on trial yesterday accused of violent disorder. They deny the offence. Prosecutor Martin Goudie said the two officers confronted a group of up to six girls on a bench outside Burger King in the busy North End shopping area of Croydon, South London, shortly after 3pm on July 16 last year.

They asked one of them to pick up a paper wrapper which had been dropped on the ground in front of them.

She did so, the court heard, but as they walked away it was thrown on the ground again and the officers threatened her with a fixed penalty notice.

Mr Goudie said the officers tried to move the girl away from the group but the 15-year- old, on whose lap she was sitting, held her back.

He said: 'Her intervention led to the officers to try and arrest her and as they did she became louder and more violent.

'It was a busy time of the afternoon-and a large crowd gathered. Many of them became involved in an aggressive manner, which included assaulting the officers.

'The officers were so concerned by the actions of the crowd that they pressed the emergency alert buttons on their radios and summoned help.'

In court PC Smith relived the terrifying incident, saying: 'Perry
shouted out she had bitten him. I went over to try and arrest her and took hold of her arms.

'Her arms were swinging wildly in front of me. At this point I was held from behind and I felt some people were kicking me on the back and stamping on me.

'I felt arms around my throat, I was dragged to the ground. I could not see anything. I had someone's arm around my throat and I was trying to get out of their grip.

'In a matter of seconds a bigger crowd had built up. It felt like someone a lot bigger. It was a member of the public, not one of her friends.

'There was a group of people. Once I was on the ground all I could see was the feet of people trying to stamp on me. I was trying to protect myself as best I could.

'Luckily I managed to get back to my feet. I had lost my cap and my radio but I had not drawn my baton or my CS gas.

'The first thing I tried to do was locate PC Lathwood - we had been separated.'

PC Smith suffered bruising to his knee and head as well as cuts to his hands, the court was told.

PC Lathwood suffered a bite to his shoulder as well as bruising to his head, arms and legs.

Witnesses told police that the 15-year-old girl tried to strangle the officer and he hit her across the back of her legs with his baton. She was only subdued and handcuffed after he sprayed CS gas in her face.

The prosecutor said the two accused men, Wayne Elliston, 34, and Harold Hill, 38, both from Croydon, admit being at the scene.

They were arrested the next day after making a complaint at Croydon police station about the behaviour of the two officers.

Elliston admitted talking to the officers and Hill claimed to have been trying to control the teenage girl, the court heard. Both deny any violence.

The attack was witnessed by a large number of shoppers and employees at nearby stores. continues here

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