Harpenden brothers avoid jail term after brutal late-night assault on off-duty constable

PUBLISHED: 19:00 10 October 2014

Two Harpenden brothers who beat up an off-duty policeman in a late-night attack in the town have avoided prison.

Daniel and George Rolfe, who live in Harpenden’s affluent East Common area, were told they would have to pay their victim compensation and carry out unpaid work after being found guilty of assaulting Herts police constable Chris Kouwenberg.

The brothers, from Cravells Road, had pleaded not guilty to the assault, which took place in the early hours of Sunday June 10 2012.

Mr Kouwenberg and his girlfriend Sally Muntaine, who is also a serving Herts police officer, had been to a charity event earlier that evening at the Herts Showground in Redbourn, and had been dropped off near the railway station to catch a train back to their Luton home.

They encountered the brothers on the A1081 near the green bordered by Southdown Road. The Rolfes had been out since the previous afternoon drinking and watching rugby on TV.

Mr Kouwenberg said as he got a picnic hamper out of the car, his girlfriend began walking, but he realised she was heading in the wrong direction - back towards St Albans. By the time he caught up with her she was standing by the brothers.

“I reached them and I may have said some sort of general greeting like ‘you alright guys’,” said Mr Kouwenberg.

He said Daniel Rolfe was “challenging” in his manner, asking him where he had been and where he was from, becoming more and more intimidating with encouragement from his brother.

Becoming concerned about himself and his girlfriend, Mr Kouwenberg said he tried to diffuse the situation by telling them he was a police officer, but was then pushed by Daniel before feeling a blow to the back of his head.

Mr Kouwenberg said Daniel Rolfe came at him throwing punches and as they began grappling he was knocked to the floor and hit around the face by George. He said as blows reigned down on him he curled up in a foetal position trying to protect himself.

“I was getting blow after blow after blow after blow. It felt like dozens of blows. At this time they were like animals swearing and shouting.

“Sally was screaming ‘Get off him, get off him. Leave him alone!’”

During the course of the attack Mr Kouwenberg bit one of his assailants on the finger, and although he managed to call the police on his phone he was unable to speak.

Although his assailants initially walked off with his mobile, they threw it onto a grassy area after he warned them they faced a charge of robbery,

After retrieving it Mr Kouwenberg followed the pair to Southdown Road and got into a taxi, relaying information on the vehicle to his colleagues at police control.

A short while later police stopped the taxi and the brothers were arrested.

During a three-day trial both claimed Mr Kouwenberg had been the aggressor that night and they had merely defended themselves.

The jury heard Mr Kouwenberg suffered grazing and bruises all over his head, face and body, as well as cuts and bruises to his legs.

Following the preparation of reports, Daniel Rolfe, 26, was given a six month prison sentence suspended for two years and his 21 year old brother George received an eight month jail sentence, which was also suspended for two years.

Both men were ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and each was told he must pay £300 compensation to the officer and £300 prosecution costs.

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