Police used a 140-year-old law to prosecute a prisoner who threw urine a guard in Belmarsh jail.
A determined Met detective’s use of Section 24 of the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) 1861 is believed to be the first of its kind in London.
Michael Raheem, 22, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment for administering poison with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy, after throwing his urine at the officer.
The incident took place on October 6, 2018 when Raheem approached a female prison officer holding a shower gel bottle filled with yellow liquid, which he proceeded to spray her with. He was detained by staff and the half-full bottle was retained.
An investigation was launched by officers from the South East Prison Investigation Team.
Knowing the only other charge option for Raheem would be common assault – carrying a maximum sentence of six months – officer in the case, DC Natalie Ford, believed that he should face prosecution under Section 24 of the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) 1861, which calls for proof that a noxious substance has been used with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy.
In the Met, urine is usually only tested for the presence of other substances such as drugs or alcohol – no test was previously sourced to evidentially confirm to a court that a previously unknown liquid was urine.
This meant the Met’s forensics team needed to source analytical capability to support this investigation. Therefore, a review of forensic testing capability, offered by forensic providers, was conducted, identifying a company that was able to examine the liquid and confirm beyond reasonable doubt that it was urine – making it applicable under the legislation.
Detective Chief Inspector John Massey, from the South East Command Unit, said: “This conviction shows a real persistence and flair for innovation on the part of the officers involved, demonstrating the extra mile the Met will go to ensure the safety of, and justice for, front line staff.”
On Friday, Raheem appeared via Skype before Woolwich Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to the offence.
Raheem was on remand for robbery when the incident took place. He was subsequently sentenced to six years for the robbery; the 20-month sentence to is to run consecutively.
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