Five jailed for assaulting off-duty MPS officer
Five men have been jailed for a total of nearly 25 years for assaulting an off-duty Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer and stealing his watch.
The victim had been at a bar in Rayners Lane, Harrow, North London, on November 17, 2019, and had become aware of two men watching him earlier on in the evening but chose not to act upon it.
As the victim left the bar at around 3am, a man came up from behind him and looped his arms around his neck, pulling him backwards and on to the pavement.
A group of approximately 12 people then rushed around the victim and began a frantic attack, smashing a glass bottle on the victim’s arm in the process. During the rush, an individual snatched a chain from around the victim’s neck while another man punched him repeatedly until he handed over his watch.
A friend of the victim tried to intervene and help him, but was immediately punched in the face and suffered significant injuries including a broken nose and a fractured jaw.
Another individual, not known to either the victims or attackers, approached the group and was punched and knocked unconscious, falling into the road. CCTV footage of the incident shows one of the attackers pulling at the unconscious man’s pockets, apparently looking to steal any possessions of value.
As a fourth male attempted to make his way through the crowd. the group turned their attention to him, pulling at his neck and throwing punches at him. The man managed to escape without suffering any injuries.
As the suspects left the scene, the initial victim – the off-duty police officer – realised his warrant card had been stolen. The attackers had also stolen his bank cards, driving licence and Oyster card. He immediately ran to a police station and reported the incident. He suffered injuries including bruising to his ribs, back and shoulders, which had to be treated at hospital.
Officers examined hours of CCTV and gathered enough information to identify five of the individuals involved: Rodney Abrokwa, 31, Christian Bangisa, 29, Daniel Agyeman, 30, Iraawoosan Alba, 31, and Shariff Fussaini, 29.
Further investigation placed vehicles belonging to Bangisa, Agyeman and Abrokwa at the scene, as well as mobile phone cell data showing they were in the area at the time of the incident. This evidence proved to be invaluable at trial.
On February 26, 2020, warrants were carried out at four addresses under section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Actand Abrokwa, Bangisa, Agyeman and Alba were arrested. During searches of the addresses, oficers found clothing matching those the men were seen wearing in the CCTV footage. Fussaini was arrested the following day at an address in Westcliff-On-Sea, Essex.
In a statement following the incident, the off-duty officer wrote of the impact the incident had on his life, saying that he was constantly looking over his shoulder, continued to feel pain from where he had been assaulted and lives in fear of suffering a similar attack.
Detective Inspector Gavin Collins from the MPS Operation Venice team, who led the investigation, said: “The CCTV shows these men committing a chaotic, brutal and sustained attack on the victim and others who were present on the night. It is clear that these individuals wanted nothing more than to steal valuable possessions from the victim. The attackers acted purely on their desire to steal a valuable watch, and yet the incident resulted in many individuals being physically harmed, and many more onlookers having to witness a truly disturbing incident.
“The Met takes violence against victims and its officers extremely seriously. The group became aware that the victim was a police officer when they found his warrant card. They subsequently continued to rain blows down on the victim and committed further violence against others in the area, demonstrating their arrogance and total disregard for the fact that they were assaulting an emergency worker.
“I hope that knowing this group of men will be spending a significant time in prison provides some reassurance to the victims, and those who witnessed this awful incident. The Met and the judicial system will not tolerate violence in any form, not least when it is committed against a person who regularly and knowingly puts themselves in harm’s way for others.”
All five had pleaded guilty at Harrow Crown Court in February to violent disorder. Abrokwa and Bangisa also pleaded guilty to robbery. The trial found the other three guilty of robbery. The five were sentenced at the same court on Friday, April 9, each receiving between four and six years imprisonment.