Police officer who assaulted 'vulnerable' boy handed suspended prison sentence

Wiltshire Pc Lee Prince appeared at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court (PA Archive)
Wiltshire Pc Lee Prince appeared at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court (PA Archive)

A police officer who assaulted a "vulnerable" boy as he was being detained has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to do more than 200 hours community work.

Wiltshire Pc Lee Prince remained silent in the dock at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court as he was sentenced for common assault on a 17-year-old boy while on duty in Swindon as a firearms officer in April 2023.

District judge Neeta Minhas said Prince had used "force to the face and not a punch to the face" during the encounter in which he was also verbally abusive.

She added: "At the time, you would not have known of his (the boy's) personal circumstances or any learning difficulties but there does not seem to be much by way of remorse."

Prince, 52, of Hook, Wiltshire, was found guilty after a trial at the City of London Magistrates' Court last month, and was sentenced on Tuesday to 16 weeks' imprisonment suspended for 12 months, and 240 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £775 trial costs, £500 compensation and a £154 victim surcharge.

Prince, who has since been suspended from his post, was at the scene outside Liquor World in White Beam Court as the teenager was being detained on suspicion of criminal damage.

The judge said the boy was "17-years-old and homeless at the time and there was an element of vulnerability in that he was detained" and could not get away.

The boy, who has learning difficulties, was "vulnerable due to his age" and he was a "17-year-old being detained by adults", the judge said.

The court heard that Prince had no previous convictions and a 24-year career with the police but it was a "hugely aggravating factor that you were a serving police officer on duty and in uniform", the judge said.

The boy sat at the back of the court as the judge heard he had become "very depressed and reclusive" since the violent episode and he "struggles to interact and socialise with people".

Prince had also called him a "cretin" and "mocked" him, and he felt "ashamed and embarrassed", the teenager said in his victim impact statement which was read to the court on his behalf.

He also said he had nightmares about the assault and feelings of distrust about Prince and the police.

Mike Williams, defending, said there had "plainly been an abuse of power" but Prince, who was a long-serving officer with no previous convictions and references from colleagues, now found himself in a situation which would have a "devastating impact on him, his family and future prospects for employment".

In an update after Prince's conviction last month, Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Catherine Roper said misconduct proceedings would commence within the force.

She said: "The public have the right to expect nothing other than the highest standards of behaviour from my officers, staff and volunteers, and I will accept nothing less. Public trust and confidence depends on it."