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Ex-MP Joyce found guilty of attack

Published 01/05/2015

Eric Joyce is facing trial at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on charges of assault and criminal damage
Eric Joyce is facing trial at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on charges of assault and criminal damage

Former MP Eric Joyce has been found guilty of attacking two teenagers in an "unjustified and unprovoked" assault in a shop.

The 54-year-old attacked the boys aged 14 and 15 at News and Food Express in Chalk Farm, north London, on October 17, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

Joyce, the former MP for Falkirk, insisted he was performing a "citizen's arrest" but District Judge John Zani found him guilty of two counts of common assault.

"Given my findings and your previous convictions, all options including imprisonment will be considered," the judge said.

Dressed in a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie, Joyce stared straight ahead and showed no emotion in the dock as the verdicts were read out.

Prosecutor Jon Swain told the court the former Labour MP attacked the boys after they walked past him as he stood by a drinks fridge.

After an "exchange of words", Joyce grabbed the 14-year-old and knocked him to the floor, Mr Swain told the court.

"Mr Joyce continued to hold on and wrestle (the boy)," he said.

"Mr Joyce was asking the shopkeeper to call the police and continuing to hold on to (the boy). At one point he held him by the neck."

Mr Swain said the second boy tried to help his friend but was elbowed by Joyce and winded.

When police arrived, Joyce claimed one of the boys had been aggressive and headbutted him, the court heard.

Joyce's attacks, which happened at around 9.40pm, were captured on the shop's CCTV camera.

"It's the Crown's case that the actions taken by Mr Joyce constituted an unjustified and unprovoked assault on both boys," Mr Swain said.

"Nothing either did warranted the level of violence demonstrated."

Delivering his verdict, Judge Zani told Joyce: "In my view, you underplayed the violence you meted out to these young men and wanted the police called so as to justify your actions.

"You readily told police, incorrectly, that (one boy) headbutted you for no reason."

Joyce was released on conditional bail ahead of sentencing on May 27.

He declined to comment as he left court.

One of the victims - who was 14 at the time of the assault but is now 15 - said Joyce "flung" him to the floor and held him down by the throat.

"He thought I was talking to him and he started getting aggressive," the boy told the court.

"He turned around and started saying things like 'You talking to me? You trying to embarrass me?'

"The man grabbed me and would not let me leave. He started shouting in my face.

"I remember begging him to leave me alone."

In the witness box, Joyce - who denied both assaults - insisted he had overcome his battle with alcohol after a string of previous convictions.

The court heard that he was convicted in 2012 of four common assaults in a House of Commons bar - which led to his resignation from the Labour Party - and in 2014 of breaching the peace at Edinburgh Airport after being "threatening and abusive".

Joyce told the court: "I've put my hand up to every wrong thing I've done in my life. That very troubled three years always involved alcohol.

"There was quite clearly an issue with alcohol. There has not been for some time."

Joyce, who is not standing for Falkirk in the General Election, claimed he was performing a "citizen's arrest" when he held the boy down on the floor because the youngster tried to knock over a shelf.

"I said I was going to citizen's arrest him and I held on to him," the former politician said.

"I have a background as a judo player. I was conscious I didn't want to over-act."

But shopkeeper Ali Fahan told the court: "The boy was crying, saying he wanted to go home.

"I told the man to let him go because he was crying. The smaller boy was trying to save his friend. He was trying to push the man and save his friend and go home."

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