THE family of a Bexley police officer wept as he was found guilty of assaulting a 14-year-old boy who was in custody.

Steven Rea, 39, of Daleside Close, Chelsfield, was charged with common assault after the incident at Bexleyheath police station on October 13 last year.

The 14-year-old boy had been arrested on suspicion of stealing a bottle of vodka from Iceland in Erith town centre.

CCTV footage showed Rea swearing at the youngster, walking up to him, grabbing him by the throat, dropping him, picking him up and dragging him to a police custody cell.

District Judge Jeremy Coleman told Westminster Magistrates' Court: "Sadly it is absolutely clear that Sergeant Rea allowed himself to be provoked by a very difficult young character.

"He lost his temper and left the neutral area behind his desk.

"I have no doubt that what he did next was completely out of character.

"However, what he is seen to do to (the boy) was not justified.

"What he did does not amount to necessary force, albeit after provocation."

He added: "I didn't find (the boy) to be a particularly impressive witness.

"It is reprehensible that a 14-year-old should be allowed by his family to go out and behave this way.

"The fact he was uncooperative at the police station was only partly down to alcohol. I think he was being deliberately uncooperative.

"However the most important evidence is the CCTV.

"In the custody suite (the boy) was being irritating and difficult, however he was not being violent."

CCTV footage showed Rea calling the boy a "horrible little individual", before the youngster appeared to show him his middle finger.

Rea then said: "Now you've f***ing upset me."

He grabbed him and dragged him over to a custody cell, adding: "Get up, stop being a p***k.

"What is wrong with you? You do the thieving, you stand up and be a man.

"You get in there. Don't f***ing touch me. Do as you are told."

In mitigation, defence counsel Billy Emlyn Jones said: "This finding will undoubtedly bring his career to an end."

Rea was sentenced to a six-month conditional discharge and made to pay costs of £500.

Rea, who denied the charge against him, is currently suspended from duty.