Van driver guilty over police officer machete attack but cleared of attempted murder

Will Taylor
News Reporter
Rowdan, left, was cleared of the attempted murder after he hacked at PC Outten, right

A heroic police officer hacked in the head by a frenzied handyman relived his attack as his assailant was convicted.

Muhammad Rodwan, 56, was Tasered by PC Stuart Outten, despite the Met police officer suffering six blows to his head, leaving his skull exposed, a court heard earlier this week.

Rodwan, who has previous convictions for rape and two machete attacks, was found on Thursday found guilty of wounding with intent, but not guilty of attempted murder and possessing an offensive weapon.

During the trial, jurors were told how he lashed out at the 29-year-old officer after being pulled over for driving without insurance.

Rodwan was driving a van, which he also lived in, on 7 August last year when he was pulled over by police at about 11pm.

His defence barrister, Michael Turner QC, said during the trial this week that Rodwan appeared to be “agitated, cross”, and Rodwan told him that was because he was “always being stopped”.

He said he was not aware at the time that the insurance on his van had expired 12 days earlier.

Asked what he had been intending to do, Rodwan, who had smoked marijuana earlier on the day of the incident, said: “Drive away, drive away. Because I thought it’s just one of those circumstances where it was nothing again.”

In a struggle with PC Outten, seven of Rodwan's dreadlocks were pulled out, which he described during the trial as "extremely painful". He also said the officer had grabbed him by the throat.

“I could not breathe at all. It felt like he cracked my throat, squeezed so hard it felt like it was popping,” Rodwan said, adding that we went to get his machete from his van but could not remember how many times he hit PC Outten with it before getting out.

“I was just trying to hit him to get him away from me,” he said, adding that he wanted to “try to scare him away from me” and had no intention of killing the officer.

PC Stuart Outten at New Scotland Yard in London (PA)
The machete wounds on PC Outten (PA)

PC Outten said during the trial he had used his leg to stop Rodwan closing his van door.

“I tried to say ‘you’re not leaving’ and then the defendant punched me twice to the face,” PC Outten had told jurors.

“While I was cautioning the male he was intending to climb in the back of the van so I grabbed him by the belt with my left hand and dreadlocks with my right hand. My radio fell to the floor.

The 2ft long rusty machete (PA)

“As I was pulling him by his hair and by his belt the dreadlocks in my hand have come away from his head.”

PC Outten said he grabbed the suspect’s neck to incapacitate him, saying there was “no space” to use his baton, before Rodwan lunged away.

The officer told jurors: “I then started feeling something sharp being snapped against my head.

“Initially I did not see. I was aware something was hitting me on the head but I was still focusing on getting the suspect and removing him from the van.”

PC Outten said he managed to Taser Rodwan after backing away from the van while Rodwan came at him with a machete, despite suffering six wounds to the head, skull fractures, broken fingers and injuries to his arms.

“(The defendant) was still closing in on me swinging the machete,” he had told the court.

“I was focusing on aiming the Taser at the body and firing again. I was on the floor almost on my back.”

Rodwan said he had the recently-sharpened machete because he had been using it on a gardening job in Gospel Oak. He denied keeping it in case someone broke into his van, which was also his home.

“I was trying to defend myself, that was the only thing I had that I could have got hold of, that was the only thing close at hand,” he told jurors earlier this week.

In cross examination, Rodwan said he had not got angry but was “cheesed off” as he believed he had done nothing wrong.

Asked why he didn’t simply speak to PC Outten about being pulled over, Rodwan said: “It did not get to that stage. The police officer was actually quite rude and aggressive to me.

“If he had approached me in a different manner, circumstances may have turned out quite differently. But it didn’t.”

PC Outten, left, and a court sketch of Rodwan, right (PA Images)

Mr Rees suggested he had tried to escape after being caught driving an uninsured vehicle, but Rodwan denied this.

Rodwan was found guilty of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm by a jury after a seven-hour deliberation.

He made no reaction as the verdicts were delivered.

The jury had not been told that Rodwan had previously attacked two men with a machete in the bedroom of his east London flat in 1996.

Then known as Rodney Reid, he was jailed at Snaresbrook Crown Court for nine years for wounding with intent.

In 1983, he was jailed at the Old Bailey for three years for rape and in 2008 he received a caution for having cannabis, according to Press Association sources.

At the time of his arrest last year, Rodwan gave a relative’s address in Luton, but went on to tell jurors he slept in his van around Waltham Forest.