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Van driver who launched ‘frenzied’ machete attack on police officer cleared of attempted murder

PC Stuart Outten required surgery after suffering six blows to the head

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 23 January 2020 17:15 GMT
Van driver launches ‘frenzied’ machete attack on police officer

A van driver who launched a “frenzied attack” on a police officer with a machete has been cleared of attempted murder after claiming he acted in self-defence.

Muhammad Rodwan, who has previous convictions for rape and another machete attack, was found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

PC Stuart Outten needed surgery after suffering six blows to the head from a 19in blade, as well as gashes to his arm and two broken fingers.

The Metropolitan Police officer said he felt “very lucky” to be alive after the assault, which only ended when he shot Rodwan with his Taser.

The 56-year-old handyman was driving through Leyton, east London, when PC Outten and a female colleague stopped him for having no insurance, in August.

The Old Bailey heard that the officers, in a marked police van, turned on their blue lights and pulled Rodwan over after running a licence-plate check.

PC Helen Brooks asked him to get out but he shouted at her and drove off, leading a short chase before pulling over again and shouting at the female officer.

PC Outten blocked Rodwan in with the police van and approached him as he tried to drive away for a second time.

The officer told how Rodwan punched him in the face for stopping him, and then started a “physical fight” inside the van as the constable tried to arrest him for assaulting a police officer.

“He broke away from me, grabbed a machete and hacked me in the head at least five or six times,” PC Outten said.

“Once I realised what I was being hit with I backed away, drew my Taser and fired twice while he was still slicing and slashing me.

“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.”

Muhammad Rodwan has been found guilty of wounding with intent but not guilty of attempted murder (Metropolitan Police)

PC Outten, who lost his radio in the struggle, shouted for help from passersby as his colleague threw the machete out of Rodwan’s reach.

Members of the public tried to give the officer first aid and used a jacket to stem the bleeding from his head before more officers arrived and arrested Rodwan.

During his trial, he claimed that he had been “attacked” by the police and that he was defending himself.

Rodwan 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.

Asked why he became aggressive, Rodwan said he was “always being stopped” and accused PC Outten of being “rude” and hurting him in the struggle.

But when he was charged with attempted murder, he told police: “My life is worth more than his life.”

A jury that deliberated for seven hours found him guilty of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm on Thursday, but cleared him of attempted murder and possessing an offensive weapon.

The machete used by Muhammad Rodwan (Metropolitan Police)

Jurors were not told that Rodwan – then known as Rodney Reid – had previously been jailed for attacking two men with a machete in the bedroom of his flat in 1996.

In 1983, he had been jailed for rape and in 2008 he received a caution for having cannabis.

PC Outten is still undergoing rehabilitation for his injuries, which have left permanent scars, and has been told that his hand will not recover its full strength.

Scotland Yard said he had been inundated with messages of support, as well as gifts and cards addressed to “machete attack officer London”.

PC Outten said he hoped to return to work, adding: “I will not let it discourage me from doing the job I love.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker said the “frenzied, brutal attack” was a reminder of the dangers officers face daily amid a rise in assaults.

“Officers should be able to go about their work, protecting the public, without fear of abuse or attack,” he added.

“Unfortunately that is not the reality, and officers are regularly the victims of unacceptable physical assaults whilst on duty, but this is something we should never accept as ‘part of the job’.”

PC Outten was one of 5,900 Metropolitan Police officers and staff who were victims of assault in 2019, and the force has created a team dedicated to the issue.

Rodwan will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Additional reporting by PA

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