Off-duty police officer who attacked ‘terrified’ woman walking home spared jail

An off-duty police officer who attacked a terrified woman as she walked home alone was allowed to walk free from court.

PC Oliver Banfield, a probationary officer with West Midlands Police, grabbed Emma Homer on a dark street last July.

He used techniques taught during police training to try to tackle the mum-of-two to the ground and put her in a headlock.

Miss Homer, 36, managed to flee from the scene as Banfield, who had been on a night out, branded her a “f slag”.

A court heard the 25-year-old remains in his post with West Midlands Police despite admitting a charge of assault by beating.

Banfield, of Bidford-on-Avon, Warks, appeared at Leicester Magistrates’ Court for sentencing today.

His lawyer argued he should not have to do community service because it would be “difficult” for him to work with criminals.

Instead the officer was sentenced to a 14-week curfew, banning him from leaving his house between 7pm and 7am.

Banfield was also ordered to pay his victim £500 compensation and court costs totalling £180.

The terrifying attack in Bidford-on-Avon, Warks, was caught on CCTV and shown to the court this morning.

It showed Banfield trying to perform an “unlawful arrest” on his victim and grabbing her around the neck.

Banfield, who the court heard was drunk at the time of the attack, tried to pull her to the ground as she screamed and dragged her along the pavement.

Miss Homer said the attack had a devastating effect on her.

She has suffered from anxiety, stress, panic attacks and insomnia and is undergoing therapy and counselling.

Miss Homer said being attacked by a police officer had shaken her belief system “to the core”.

“I often ask myself if the impact of the attack would have been so severe if my assailant was not a police officer,” she said.

“During the assault as I struggled to get to safety I was sure this drunk man was fulfilling a violent cop movie fantasy.

“To be verbally abused with misogynistic slang, grabbed by the neck and forced to the floor on a dark road by a drunk man, a foot taller than me, is terrifying.

“But to then find out he was a police officer shook my belief system to its core.

“My ten-year-old son is naturally protective and spent the days after the assault asking if they have ‘caught the nasty man?’

“The effect on my children when they found out my assailant was a police officer was incredibly sad.

“It’s unfathomable to them that a person whose job is to serve and protect would attack and hurt their family.

“Both are wary and unnecessarily anxious when they see a police car or an officer in uniform and will ask me, ‘Is that him mummy?’.

“Immediately after the assault I was in shock. I could not sleep

“I found myself compulsively running through the streets going through the events of the assault.

“What if I hadn’t got away? What if he had attacked another woman drunk?

“It was compounded by the slow response from the police to the assault. It left me very fragile.”

Judge Nick Watson said Ms Homer was a “vulnerable woman walking home alone at night”.

He said Banfield “demonstrated his hostility to the victim based on her sex” by repeatedly calling her a “slag”.

The judge added the officer had “abused his power” and described the misogynistic abuse as “an aggravating factor”.

But he declined to impose a community penalty and instead ordered Banfield to observe a curfew.

West Midlands Police have been approached for comment.