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Begging tourist pushed off-duty Pc

A French tourist begging in London pushed an off-duty police officer into the road when he would not give him any money, a court has been told.

The constable fell over and a bus swerved round him, City of Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

Franck Sebah, 44, from Paris, was jailed for seven days after pleading guilty to common assault and is expected to be released on Monday.

Leonard Herman, prosecuting, said that the officer had finished his shift and was walking along Victoria Street towards Victoria Station at 6pm on Tuesday when Sebah asked for 50 cents. He told him he did not have any money, but Sebah followed him and asked again. The officer produced his warrant card, told Sebah he should not be begging, and told him to go away.

Sebah followed him across the road, saying 'come on, we'll sort this out, man to man', Mr Herman said. "The officer feared for his safety as he had had a double hip replacement and didn't want a fight.

"The man then lunged at him, with both hands, that were clenched, and hit him in the chest area, causing him to fall backwards into the road. He said, 'I saw a bus coming towards me, I feared for my life as there was moving traffic. I tried to roll out of the way of the bus, I believe the bus swerved around me, I heard people screaming."

The officer saw three people holding Sebah on the ground outside a nearby McDonald's.

Tom Mackinnon, defending, said Sebah had already been punished enough with two nights in custody and asked for him to be given a conditional discharge.

But District Judge Nicholas Evans told Sebah: "On your account, you seem to have come here with insufficient money to survive. Food and accommodation is very expensive. You were begging for money, that is an offence in this country, it might also be an offence in France.

"You were aggressively begging. He walked off, but you followed him. It is quite unacceptable to be begging, to do it aggressively, and when someone doesn't give you money, push them around."

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