Search

Police officer cleared of all charges after smashing and sawing through a windscreen during Kentish Town arrest

PUBLISHED: 13:49 27 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:54 27 July 2018

Pc Joshua Savage arrives at Southwark Crown Court to stand trial over allegations of common assault, possession of a bladed article, and criminal damage after allegedly being caught on camera attacking a suspect's car. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Pc Joshua Savage arrives at Southwark Crown Court to stand trial over allegations of common assault, possession of a bladed article, and criminal damage after allegedly being caught on camera attacking a suspect's car. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

A police officer who sawed and smashed his way through a suspect’s windscreen with a knife in a case of mistaken identity has been cleared of common assault and damaging property.

Handout still taken from video of PC Josh Savage by Leon Fontana on September 16 2016. Picture: PAHandout still taken from video of PC Josh Savage by Leon Fontana on September 16 2016. Picture: PA

Joshua Savage, 28, was accused of attacking Leon Fontana’s Ford Fiesta with a baton before cutting the glass with a lock knife on September 16 2016.

Police mistakenly thought the driver was a potentially violent drug dealer called TJ Dixon who may have had a weapon and only a provisional licence.

The incident left Mr Fontana with a shard of glass in his eye that had to be removed and he was forced to pay £175 to have his windscreen repaired.

The incident, at around 5.25pm on Vicar’s Road in Kentish Town, was filmed by Mr Fontana and shared widely online at the time, provoking a public outcry.

Mr Savage’s actions were described by the prosecution as those of “a bully in uniform”.

The police officer said he acted lawfully and proportionately when Mr Fontana refused to step out of his vehicle, and that it was common practice for Metropolitan Police officers to carry knives on duty.

On Friday, Mr Savage was cleared of one count of assault by beating and one count of damaging property at Southwark Crown Court.

He was also cleared of possession of a bladed article for having the multi-tool, which is not a police-issued piece of kit.

In his evidence, Mr Savage claimed the sharp rise in violent crime in London is down to officers being too afraid to make arrests in case they face a backlash.

He continued: “I knew I was in a police-unfriendly area, potentially with a person who could present a risk to myself or my colleagues.

Mr Savage said he was unable to see into the car properly because of its tinted windows.

“I believed the driver to be Mr Dixon. We knew he presented a risk to police officers and the public in that he would be prepared to drive off and cause a pursuit.”

He added: “The subject was in a vehicle, a vehicle is a killing machine and he was completely in control of that vehicle.”

Mr Savage said that when Mr Fontana started filming him, it seemed like he wanted to repeat the whole exchange from the beginning “for the benefit of the camera and his YouTube fans”.

“This is the problem we are seeing throughout London - police officers are more reluctant to deal with things because they are scared of what might come afterwards.

“Hence why we are seeing gang members not being disrupted and the rise in violent crime.”

Mr Savage claimed that “the majority” of response officers carry their own bladed tools on duty.

He said his job required a “cutting implement” for acts such as slicing seat belts off trapped car passengers in emergency situations.

In the footage of the alleged assault, when Mr Fontana refuses to leave his vehicle, the Metropolitan Police officer can be heard saying in footage played to the jury, “Get out of the car” and, “You’re not allowed to drive it”.

Mr Fontana, who placed his keys on the dashboard, replies: “I’ve got a licence and insurance” and says he is filming for his own safety.

In his evidence, Mr Fontana said: “I thought if I left that car I would have been in danger certainly.

“I certainly wasn’t getting out to a police officer with a knife and a cosh in his hand.”

Mr Savage, of Hermon Hill, Wanstead, north-east London, has been on restricted duties with the Met since the incident.

Despite his acquittal, Mr Savage still has to satisfy the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) that he is fit to serve as an officer.

According to IOPC regional director Jonathan Green, a misconduct hearing could now be held to decide whether he returns to full duties.

A date for the hearing has yet to be set but Mr Green said it would take place as soon as possible.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:52

Community groups are celebrating after the owners of the “landmark” Alliance pub in West Hampstead had planning permission for extensive remodelling and redevelopment refused.

Yesterday, 14:09

Twenty-five people, including eleven in Camden, have been charged with drugs offences after two-days of dawn raids in Camden, Islington, Brent and Lambeth.

Yesterday, 13:32

Sardonic, sarcastic and funny are three of the words that have been used to describe the late-SOAS lecturer and King’s Cross local Prof Lawrence Saez, who died at the beginning of September.

Yesterday, 12:49

Jamie Brown of Archant Local Impact explains how you can build brand awareness.

Thu, 19:01

This year’s Remembrance Day will see a remarkable multi-faith ceremony bring together the Highgate community to remember the horrors of the First World War on the centenary of its conclusion.

Thu, 16:43

Christmas came early for activists in West Hampstead last night after Camden Council refused to grant christmas tree sellers Pines and Needles a licence to trade from Fortune Green.

Thu, 15:00

“Zero-hours” critical care nurses at the Royal Free Trust are facing a pay cut that could set them back thousands of pounds a year, the Ham&High can reveal.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now