Oliver Banfield, 25, put Emma Homer, 37, in a headlock, dragged her across a pavement and called her a ‘f****** slag’ as she ran away (Picture: MirrorPix)
An off-duty police officer who drunkenly attacked a ‘terrified’ woman as she walked home has avoided jail.
PC Oliver Banfield, 25, who serves with West Midlands Police, had been out drinking when he spotted victim Emma Homer, 37, walking alone at about 1am on July 26, 2020.
He put the mum-of-two in a headlock, pulled her onto the floor and dragged her along a pavement, before calling her a ‘f****** slag’ as she escaped and ran away.
Describing the assault, Mrs Homer said: ‘I often ask myself if the impact of the attack would have been so severe if my assailant was not a police officer.
‘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 that he was a police officer shook my belief system to its core.’
Discussing the impact on her mental health, she added: ‘I considered myself a confident, relaxed, and independent wife and mother but since the attack I live with constant anxiety.
‘I have changed simple things like my route home, and I have had to ask my family not to discuss the case as it sends me into a panic attack – indeed whenever the subject is brought up I feel a rush of anxiety and a tightening at my throat.’
Mrs Homer has slammed Warwickshire Police’s initial handling of her complaint, saying it took ‘more than 30 hours for an officer to take a telephone statement’, ‘nine days for an officer to come and see her’ and ‘eight weeks for an officer to conduct house-to-house enquiries’.
The CPS decided not to charge Banfield in September 2020 – but Mrs Homer had the decision reviewed and overturned with the help of the Women’s Justice Centre.
Banfield was sentenced today at Leicester Magistrates’ Court after he admitted to assault by beating (Picture: MirrorPix)
Victim Mrs Homer said she now lives with ‘constant anxiety’ (Picture: Mirrorpix)
Banfield was handed a 14-week curfew on Friday, banning him from leaving his house between 7pm and 7am after admitting a charge of assault by beating at court at Leamington Spa in January.
He was also ordered to pay £500 compensation, along with a £95 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.
The cop was ‘removed from public-facing duties after the assault’ while a criminal investigation into the incident in Bidford-on-Avon was carried out by Warwickshire Police.
The force has apologised to Mrs Homer, admitting its ‘initial response to the report of the assault was not as swift as it should have been’.
However, they have come under fire for not immediately firing Banfield, who remains suspended, pending the outcome of a disciplinary process into an allegation of gross misconduct.
Labour MP Harriet Harman said: ‘Policeman attacks woman walking home alone after dark. Must have been terrifying for her but no prison sentence.
‘He continues in post. @WMPolice (West Midlands Police) must review. This is proof, if any needed, that system fails women and protects men.’
Chief Superintendent Ben Smith, of Warwickshire Police, said the force recognised ‘the strength of feeling that has come about as a result of Sarah Everard’s tragic death and understand the concerns relating to violence against women and girls nationally’.
He added the police was ‘aware of the concerns around its handling of the case, had carried out a review and ‘responded to the complainant’.
He said: ‘We acknowledge that, due to internal process errors, the initial response to the report of the assault was not as swift as it should have been, and an apology has been issued with regards to this.
‘A proportionate investigation was then conducted, which ultimately led to the charge and prosecution of the perpetrator.’
West Midlands District Crown Prosecutor Rachel Adams said: ‘The CPS takes violence against women and girls extremely seriously and will continue to robustly prosecute offences arising from this sort of behaviour.
‘I authorised a charge of assault by beating against Oliver Banfield after a referral under the victim’s right to review process, and I have personally engaged with the victim and her family throughout the proceedings.’
Deputy Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine, of West Midlands Police, said: ‘Oliver Banfield was removed from public-facing police duties after the assault and while the investigation by Warwickshire Police was being carried out.
‘To protect the criminal case we’ve not been able to carry out our own misconduct investigation until its conclusion.
‘Now sentencing has taken place, our investigation will be carried out and Pc Banfield faces allegations of gross misconduct and is currently suspended.’
She added: ‘We understand the strength of feeling surrounding the desperately sad death of Sarah Everard and concerns on the issue of women’s safety but it would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this stage.
‘Our role is to protect the public, who should be able to trust us. We therefore hold all our officers to the highest standards and we will take appropriate action against anyone whose actions fall below what is expected.’
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