Haringey man cleared of assault on girlfriend after supermaket tussle watched by shoppers

By Dave Speck in Local People

A Wood Green man accused of “grappling and wrestling” with his girlfriend on the floor of a supermarket as shoppers and staff looked on, was cleared of assault by magistrates.

Peter Johnson, 37, of Darwin Road, was charged with assault against his girlfriend Libby Welch after the incident was captured on the store’s CCTV,

Footage showing the incident near the cigarette counter at Tesco’s store in Colney Hatch Lane, Finchley on the evening of Friday, August 26 last year was viewed by magistrates when he appeared at Willesden Magistrates Court last Thursday

.It showed him putting his arm around her head and pulling her backwards as the pair landed on the floor before he ended up “sitting” on her.

But Mr Johnson denied assault saying he had only been trying to get his car keys off her after she snatched them in a row.

Giving evidence he said she’d been upset because she thought he was on the phone to another woman, when was his daughter he had contacted.

He said: “I showe her my phone but she wasn’t listening. I was pleading with her to givei the keys back.”

Prosecuting Neehal Patel said the force used had been "excessive" and asked him why he had “flung” her and "sat" on her, to which he replied that she had bitten into the bone of his hand and that he had only been “kneeling over her.

”The CCTV showed shoppers watching from a distance, while others just walked past, before a member of staff approached Mr Johnson.

Defending, Alex Gorst read a witness statement describing how Ms Welch had, three months earlier, damaged the defendant’s white Range Rover by scraping a key down the sides.

He said Mr Johnson feared she would do the same again, adding: “The primary defence is that of property. He is lawfully and legally entitled to use reasonable force in the defence of his property.

”He said: “Mr Johnson is a large man - that is clear to see - and the difference in respective sizes can create a false impression in terms of force used.

”The court heard how the situation later “calmed down” and the pair went back to Ms Welch’s house where Mr Johnson was living at the time, but that she began checking his phone again in the night so he left.

She went to Whittington Hospital, in Archway, the next day where it was found she had bruising on her left breast and staff called the police.

Chairman of the bench Ms Yvonne Haines described the incident as "wrestling and grappling" and noted that Ms Welch had not turned up to give evidence nor had she given a signed statement.

She said: “We cannot be sure beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defence or did not use reasonable force.”

Mr Johnson was acquitted. The couple are no longer together, the court heard.

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