Failure of attempted murder charge met with dismay

A man who repeatedly struck an officer from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) with a 2ft-long machete, leaving him with multiple skull fractures and six deep gashes to his head, has been cleared of attempted murder after claiming he acted in self-defence.

Jan 24, 2020
By Tony Thompson
The moment PC Outten came under attack.

Muhammad Rodwan, 56, attacked Police Constable Stuart Outten in Leyton, East London, last August after the officer and his colleague, Police Constable Helen Brooks, stopped Rodwan’s white van on suspicion that it was uninsured.

After initially complying with the request to pull over, Rodwan attempted to re-enter his van and drive away. As PC Outten tried to prevent the door of the van from being shut, Rodwan lashed out, punching the officer twice in the face.

PC Outten told Rodwan he was under arrest for assaulting a police officer and cautioned him at which point Rodwan produced the machete and began to hack at PC Outten’s head and body.

Despite being wounded, PC Outten was able to draw his Taser and aim it at Rodwan, who had left the van to continue his attack. However, the first discharge failed to have any effect.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, PC Outten told how he believed he was about to die and that his life was saved by the fact he was carrying an X2 model Taser, which contains two cartridges, allowing for a second discharge.

The statement read: “Once he’s started hitting me in the head with the machete, then I realised it was escalating very quickly and I was having to now fight for my life. I recall specifically as I was falling to the floor, having fired the first shot and aiming for the second [thinking] that if this doesn’t work, this might be it.

“But luckily the Taser worked. It did its job. He fell incapacitated next to me and I was able to use it to keep him on the floor and to keep myself alive.”

PC Outten was taken to the Royal London Hospital where he was treated for his injuries. These included six deep wounds to the head with associated multiple fractures to the skull, and two wounds to the lower part of his right arm with multiple fractures of the fingers.

One cut to the side of his head caught an artery and chipped his skull. Another cut lacerated a nerve, which resulted in temporary paralysis to part of his face.

Rodwan was taken into custody. During interview he was asked why he became aggressive and said he was “always being stopped” and accused PC Outten of being “rude” and hurting him in the struggle. He added that he feared he was about to be shot.

Rodwan, who worked as a handyman, claimed that he had used his machete for a gardening job earlier in the day, and kept it with his other tools in the van because he lived in the vehicle.

Responding to allegations of attempted murder, Rodwan replied: “This officer attacked me and I defended myself.”

Rodwan was charged on August 8, and when told he was being remanded in custody said: “My life is worth more than his life.”

On Thursday (January 23), following seven hours of deliberation, a jury at the Old Bailey found Rodwan guilty of wounding with intent, but cleared him of the more serious charge of attempted murder, and also of possession of an offensive weapon.

During the trial the judge, Mrs Justice Carr, turned down an application by the prosecution and a request by the jury to reveal details about his previous convictions.

It was therefore only after the verdict was delivered that the jury learnt Rodwan had convictions going back to when he was 18. In 1982, he was given a three-year sentence for rape, while in 1997 he received a nine-year term for two counts of wounding with intent after an attack on two people with a machete. In 2008 he received a caution for possession of cannabis.

Rodwan will be sentenced today (January 24) and although he is likely to receive life imprisonment, the failure of the attempted murder charge was met with dismay and incredulity.

Detective Chief Inspector Nathan Munson from the MPS North East area’s CID, who led the investigation, said: “Rodwan was not acting in self-defence on that day – the number of blows, the force of the blows and targeted blows to PC Outten’s head proved this.”

Ken Marsh, chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “This was a ferocious attack on a colleague and I am saddened by the verdict that has come back on this. Had PC Outten not utilised the Taser when he did, he would have received further blows and would not have been able to defend himself. It would have been fatal.”

Five months after the attack, PC Outten, the son of a police officer, has made a good recovery and doctors have told him he is fit to return to work, salthough he is yet to be redeployed to the streets.

He said of Rodwan: “I’ve got no ill feelings towards him. He did what he did and I acted in my role to save my own life. I don’t believe he was attacking me personally, he was attacking a police officer in uniform. There is no hatred, there’s no time for that.

“He’ll get what he deserves, but I can’t go around holding grudges because they will weigh on me and bring me down and change the way I am as a person.”

Dubbed “Britain’s hardest cop” in the aftermath of the attack, PC Outten shrugged off claims of heroism, but said he was desperate to resume his duties.

“I’ve been off work for five months now, which has been frustrating,” said PC Outten.

“I’ve really missed working. I can’t wait to get back out on patrol, it’s what I love doing. My office is out on the street and I’m itching to get back out there. This incident has changed my life but I hope it has not changed the way I police.”

Despite growing concerns about attacks on emergency workers and new legislation aimed at ensuring those who do so face the highest possible level of punishment, there are worries that some offenders are being let off lightly.

In August last year, Mubashar Hussain was charged with attempting to murder a police officer after running him over during a car theft. But the attempted murder charge was subsequently dropped when Hussain agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of grievous bodily harm.

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