Tributes to police officer who was spat at on the frontline

'Gentle giant' PC Fabrizi later taken by Covid was attacked at Lock bridge

Friday, 21st May 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby


PC John Fabrizi 

A JUDGE has paid tribute to a police officer as he sentenced a man for spitting at him on Camden Lock bridge in the months before he died from the coronavirus.

Police Constable John Fabrizi died after contracting Covid-19 in January – one of five officers in the Met to die during that month alone.

The 60-year-old, who was often called “Big John” or “Fab”, had joined the Met a decade earlier and served in Camden alongside his colleagues throughout the worst of the pandemic.

The spitting incident was not related to how he contracted the virus but the case illustrates the pressures that frontline workers have faced during the crisis.

It was not until the case came to court yesterday (Wednesday) that some of those involved in the proceedings discovered that PC Fabrizi had died.

He had been spat at after being called to reports of a man abusing passers-by.

Samir Abdulwahab, 52, was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in a public place and later further arrested for possession of cannabis after he was searched and a small quantity of the drug was found on him.

During the arrest, Abdulwahab tried to spit in the face of PC Fabrizi and was then arrested for assaulting an emergency worker.

Yesterday, he was sen­tenced at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court to a 12-month community order, will be placed on a nine-month drug rehabilitation programme and have to serve 20 days’ rehabilitation activity.

Memorial left for PC Fabrizi at Kentish Town police station

He will be made to wear an electronic tag for eight weeks during which he will have a curfew between 8pm and 6am.

Abdulwahab pleaded not guilty to the assault charge, but was later found guilty.

Footage of the incident taken from police officers’ body-worn cameras was played during the hearing and showed officers trying to calm him down.

Defending Abdulwahab, lawyer Mohammed Zeb said: “My client is completely apologetic for what he did, and having informed him today of PC Fabrizi’s death he was utterly shocked and said how sorry he was that he had died.

“He said it had been a hard year for everyone. He also said he wants to take full advantage of any order you put in place, and told me he feels it is time he sorted himself out.”

District judge Gillian Allison told Abdulwahab: “I accept you’re terribly sorry and that this was completely out of character for you.

“Despite your substance misuse, you’ve never been before the court before.

“Spitting is a vile thing to do at any time but especially in these times when the threat and fear of contracting a disease is heightened. And it is even more serious when the spitting is directed towards a police officer.”

She added: “Police officers have a difficult job anyway, and even more so on the frontline during this pandemic, as is unfortunately evident by the police officer’s death.

“I’m ever so sorry to hear about PC Fabrizi’s death and my thoughts go out to his family.”

Borough commander, Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli, said after PC Fabrizi’s death: “It is clear how much John was loved by his colleagues. And I have been fielding so many messages from non-police people about John. That is because John was loved by all who knew him – including me. When I saw his picture I realised how much we would miss this gentle giant.”

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