Race-charge PC Alex MacFarlane says suspect 'used race slur'

Pc Alex MacFarlane
Image caption The PC denies causing racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress

A PC accused of racially abusing a suspect days after the riots in London has told a court that the man used the same racist slur referring to himself.

PC Alex MacFarlane, 53, denies causing racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress to Mauro Demetrio on 11 August 2011.

Mr Demetrio believed he was stopped on suspicion of drug-driving because he was black, Southwark Crown Court heard.

The officer is accused of using "deeply hurtful" racist language.

(Warning: Contains very strong language)

The court has previously heard the heated exchange between the men was recorded by Mr Demetrio and included an alleged racial insult where Mr Demetrio was told: "The problem with you is you will always be a nigger."

Giving evidence, Mr MacFarlane said after the suspect was detained and taken to Forest Gate police station, he was abusive towards other officers and referred to their skin colour.

'Anti-police feeling'

The PC said: "Because of the racist abuse towards the police I challenged him."

He added: "He believed he'd only been stopped because of his skin colour and that the police were racist".

The officer said Mr Demetrio used the racist slur that the PC is accused of using.

He told the court: "(The) suspect said 'the only reason I was arrested was that I was a nigger'."

When asked if he was sure the word was used, he replied: "I'm confident that's what he said, not 100% but I'm confident."

The defence lawyer asked the PC whether the abuse from suspect had wound him up, to which the officer replied: "Not especially, it's not uncommon for someone who has been arrested to be unhappy."

The officer also told the jury there was "lots of anti-police feeling" following the riots and he had worked 66 hours in the days before the alleged incident.

He barely had any sleep between shifts, with some as long as 17 hours, and said dealing with the riots in the capital had been "very stressful".

The court also heard that the officer had also just been told that he had skin cancer for which he is still receiving treatment.

'Be proud'

When asked by the defence lawyer why he used the racist word, the PC said: "I had formed an opinion in my mind that he had low self esteem as he had called himself a nigger.

"I should never have used it... I was totally exhausted. My message was be proud of who you are, but the language I used wasn't very good.

"I wanted him to be proud of who he was and stop his life of crime."

The PC also admitted not making reference to the suspect having used the racist word first, in his first statement. He denied making it up after hearing the recording.

He told the court he did not use the word to demean, belittle or mock the suspect.

In a second recording made by Mr Demetrio, earlier during his arrest, another officer was heard to call the suspect a scumbag.

The case continues.

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