Jury retires in police officer racism trial

The jury in the case of a Metropolitan Police constable who allegedly racially abused a suspect has retired to consider its verdict.

Pc Alex MacFarlane, 53, admitted he used a derogatory term for a black person when speaking to 21-year-old Mauro Demetrio, but claimed it was not intended as racial abuse.

The jury of seven men and five women at Southwark Crown Court must decide whether MacFarlane wanted to cause Mr Demetrio distress and whether he demonstrated hostility.

Mr Demetrio made two recordings on his mobile phone after he had been arrested on suspicion of drink or drug-driving on August 11 during last year’s riots.

One recording included an officer calling Mr Demetrio a “scumbag” and another abusive term, while a second recording included MacFarlane’s alleged racial insult, it is claimed.

But MacFarlane, a serving police officer for 18 years, told the court he only used the term after Mr Demetrio used it to refer to himself.

He said he was challenging Mr Demetrio about his language and urged him to be proud about his skin colour.

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Jurors were told that the suspect had been arrested after a police radio check discovered he was wanted on suspicion of the use, supply or manufacture of drugs and for failing to attend court.

MacFarlane was travelling with seven other officers in a public order unit when Mr Demetrio was stopped.

The married father-of-two said he was “exhausted” at the time of the incident after working 66 hours between August 6 and 11 following the riots which swept London.

He had also recently been told he may have a form of skin cancer, for which he is still receiving treatment, the court heard.

Mr Demetrio was taken to Forest Gate police station in east London but no further action was taken over the alleged offence.

MacFarlane denies one charge of racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress.