‘I’m always being stopped’, claims van driver accused of machete attack on Pc
Muhammad Rodwan denies attempted murder.
A white van driver accused of a machete attack on a police officer has told jurors he got cross because he was “always being stopped”.
Handyman Muhammad Rodwan, 56, lashed out with a 2ft rusty blade after Pc Stuart Outten pulled him over for having no insurance, the Old Bailey has heard.
The Metropolitan Police officer, 29, suffered six deep wounds to the head, exposing his skull, but still managed to Taser Rodwan, jurors have heard.
Following his arrest, Rodwan, who had smoked weed earlier that day, appeared “angry” and “obstructive”, the court heard.
He told police: “This officer attacked myself and I defended myself”, and on being charged with attempted murder, added: “My life is worth more than his life.”
The court heard Rodwan suffered cuts and bruises during the incident on the night of August 7 last year, and lost seven of his dreadlocks.
Giving evidence in his trial, Rodwan said he had been living in his van, where he kept all his possessions, including work tools, sleeping bag and quilt.
He used a tyre as a makeshift table, his toolbox as a seat and kept a knife for cutting cheese, the court heard.
Earlier on the day of the incident, he had used his machete while doing a gardening job in Gospel Oak, he said.
When he first noticed the police blue lights in Leyton, east London, just before 11pm, he pulled to the kerb, not thinking it was for him, the court heard.
But when he moved away and the police van followed, he realised “it was not somebody else, it’s me”, and stopped at the roadside, he said.
Jurors were shown police body-worn camera footage in which Rodwan could be heard to ask: “Are you going to knock me down? What do you want?”
Defence barrister Michael Turner QC said: “You appear to be agitated, cross, whatever. Why was that?”
Rodwan replied: “Because I’m always being stopped. So it’s one of those things, what do you want now?”
The defendant said he was not aware at the time that the insurance on his van had expired 12 days earlier.
In the police footage, the defendant was instructed by police not to drive away.
Asked what he had been intending to do, Rodwan said: “Drive away, drive away. Because I thought it’s just one of those circumstances where it was nothing again.”
Rodwan told jurors that he did not recall punching Pc Outten before he was arrested.
In the struggle, the officer pulled some of his dreadlocks out, which was “extremely painful”, and grabbed his throat, he said.
“I could not breathe at all. It felt like he cracked my throat, squeezed so hard it felt like it was popping.”
Rodwan said he retrieved his machete from the van but could not remember how many times he hit Pc Outten with it before getting out.
He said: “I was just trying to hit him to get him away from me.”
The defendant said he did not know Pc Outten had a Taser and had raised the machete up to “try to scare him away from me”.
Mr Turner said: “Throughout this, did you have any intention to kill Pc Outten?”
The defendant said: “No. Getting away from him was my thing, really.”
The barrister asked: “In terms of your actions, did you believe that they were necessary?”
Rodwan replied: “I could not think of nothing else to do at the time.”
Asked if he meant to do Pc Outten serious harm with the machete, he said: “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.”
Cross-examining, Jonathan Rees QC said: “That van was very important to you, wasn’t it, because not only did it allow you to travel to jobs as a handyman, it was your home, was it not?
“And so it would have been at the very least very inconvenient if you had been stopped from driving that van?”
Rodwan replied: “Yes. That’s not the issue. To me at that time, I was not thinking nothing like that.”
The defendant told jurors he had sharpened the machete three or four days before the incident, adding: “It has to be sharp to do its job.”
He insisted he used the long blade to break up brambles for compost and rejected the suggestion he kept it close in case someone tried to break into his van.
Rodwan denied being “angry” when he was stopped by police, saying he was merely “cheesed off”.
He said: “I was a bit cheesed off, getting stopped all the time. As far as I was concerned, I hadn’t done anything.”
Asked why he did not engage with Pc Outten to sort out the insurance issue, the defendant 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.”
The prosecutor said that Pc Outten had been “nothing but polite” before the defendant lashed out and struck him.
Mr Rees asserted: “You tried to get away because you had been caught red-handed in an uninsured vehicle. You have agreed that would be a massive inconvenience.”
The defendant denied it, saying a friend lived five minutes’ walk away and he could have slept in a tent in the forest.
Mr Rees said: “You appreciate that if you strike an individual with a recently sharpened machete the chances are you are likely to cause very serious damage. You weren’t going to tickle him with that machete were you?”
Rodwan insisted he was being “strangled” and hit Pc Outten with the machete to “get him off me”.
The prosecutor added: “This was all part and parcel of you losing your temper and control and attacking him.”
The defendant said: “To me, the machete was a way of keeping him away from me. It looked like he was going to attack me again and this time shoot me. At the time I thought he was going to shoot me, whether a gun or a Taser.”
Before giving evidence, Rodwan had never suggested he thought Pc Outten might have a gun, the court heard.
Mr Rees said: “You were going in for the kill. You intended to kill that officer whose life you thought was worth less than yours.
“You were trying to kill this officer with the machete. You were aiming for his head quite deliberately because you had lost your self control because the officer quite properly stopped you for driving with no insurance.”
The defendant denied it.
Rodwan, from Luton, has denied attempted murder, an alternative charge of wounding with intent, and possession of an offensive weapon.
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