Metropolitan police officer who punched medical worker spared jail

A police constable who punched a medical worker after mistaking him for a suspect has been spared jail.

Metropolitan Police officer Jonathan Marsh, 34, was called to a medical clinic in Atlanta Boulevard, Romford, east London, on November 13 2022 by a man who said someone was damaging his surgery sign.

After receiving a message from their control centre, he mistook Rasike Attanayake, who had called 999, for the suspect, arrested him and punched him in the back of the head.

The medical worker (pictured) was handcuffed and put in the back of a police car, before the officers realised their mistake and de-arrested him.

Marsh, from Canvey Island in Essex, was found guilty of common assault and was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was also to pay Mr Attanayake £1,500 in compensation and a standard surcharge of £154.

The court heard that Marsh had no prior convictions and had received a number of positive character references.

But District Judge Annabel Pilling described his actions as “disgusting and unwarranted”.

She told the court: “I accept it was out of character and you lost self control.

“As a police officer, you were in a position of significant responsibility. (These actions) will reduce trust and confidence in police.”

Speaking after the trial, father-of-two Mr Attanayake, 42, originally from Sri Lanka, told the PA news agency the incident had left him with both psychological and physical damage.

He said: “I play cricket as a bowler, but I have been unable to play because of issues I now have with my shoulder. It will get better but I have missed two seasons already.

“Psychologically, I now get triggered by alarms and people in uniforms. I have been a law abiding citizen since I have lived in the UK.”

Mr Attanayake also said that, at the time of the sentencing, he was yet to receive an apology from the Metropolitan Police and claimed he had instead been told the incident was a case of “mistaken identity”.

On Monday’s sentencing, he said: “There has been justice and this shows the resilience of our legal system. No one is above the law.

“This has dented my trust in local police and I believe more training is needed for these type of incidents.

“But I have no grudge against (Marsh) and have no bad feeling for police. Has there been justice? Absolutely.”

The case came to court after an investigation by watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), who said they are in contact with the Met over whether Marsh should also face a misconduct hearing.

Marsh remains suspended by the force and the Met has confirmed a misconduct process will begin.

Following the sentencing on Monday, Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, in charge of policing in East Area, apologised to Mr Attanayake.

He said: “I would like to apologise to the victim of the assault.

“This incident should not have happened and it is a matter of profound regret that an innocent member of the public was injured in this way.”

He added: “All police officers know they will be held to account for any use of force, and any use of force must be reasonable.

“On this occasion, Pc Marsh went beyond the level of force necessary and it is right that he has to face the criminal consequences of his actions.”

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