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‘Neck kneel’ trial may not come to court for two years

Man was charged with possession of a bladed article after Finsbury Park arrest filmed by passer-by

28 August, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Timur Rustem: ‘It is extremely concerning that Mr Coutain may now wait some 20 months before he is given the opportunity to challenge the manner of his arrest in court’

THE trial of a man who was charged after a film of a police officer appearing to kneel on his neck during an arrest sparked outrage may not happen for nearly two years.

Marcus Coutain’s solicitor Timur Rustem said it was “extremely concerning” that he could have to wait until March 2022 before he could “challenge the manner of his arrest in court”.

A video of Mr Coutain’s arrest in Finsbury Park made national headlines after an officer appeared to kneel on his neck as he shouted “I can’t breathe”.

The incident was filmed on a mobile phone by a passer-by and the footage was widely shared on the internet.

The force’s watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), is investigating one of the officers for assault and another for misconduct.

Mr Coutain, however, was charged with possession of a bladed article after the incident and he appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday.

Marcus Coutain’s arrest in July

Another preliminary hearing will be held in November.

Mr Rustem, of Rustem Guardian Solicitors, said: “The backlog on trials which is substantially due to the coronavirus outbreak has meant that Mr Coutain’s trial has been provisionally been set for March 2022.

“The arrest took place in July 2020, and it is extremely concerning that Mr Coutain may now wait some 20 months before he is given the opportunity to challenge the manner of his arrest in court. Naturally he is anxious to have this matter resolved.”

Paul Holborow, a spokesman for the Islington Stand Up To Racism group, said: “Marcus’s case is taking an unduly long time to come to court.”

He added: “It seems unusual that Marcus was charged almost immediately but they are hanging fire on making an announcement about the police officer.”

After the incident in Isledon Road last month, the Met suspended one officer while another was placed on restricted duties.

A HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokesperson said: “While the listing of court cases is the responsibility of the judiciary – dates set aside this far in advance are provisional and often brought forward.

“A new trial date is due to be discussed when the case is heard in November.”

The Met Police were approached for comment but they declined while the IOPC investigation is active.

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