Royal Albert Hall executive attacked police after boozy day at Wimbledon

·3-min read
Laura Pannett
Laura Pannett

A sales executive at the Royal Albert Hall kicked and spat at police officers after a drunken day out at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, a court heard.

Laura Pannett, 27, was “highly intoxicated” when she tried to punch PC Maria Teixeira and then kneed the officer in the groin after enjoying wine at the tournament’s hospitality zone.

After her arrest, Pannett spat on PC Teixeira and kicked a second police officer, PC Jennifer Anderson, as she was being taken into custody.

A tearful Pannett appeared at Wimbledon magistrates court this morning to plead guilty to the attacks and offer her apologies to the police officers.

“She couldn’t remember what happened between the officers’ arrival to assist her and being arrested and placed in handcuffs,” said prosecutor George Crivelli.

“She stated that she had too much to drink and admitted her behaviour was extraordinary.”

Asked if she could recall spitting at the PC, Pannett replied: “I can’t remember that either, I’m really sorry about that.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Her lawyer, Rashmi Hirani, told the court: “She was in the hospitality section at Wimbledon, the drinks were being topped up, and she mentally doesn’t know how much she was drinking.”

Magistrates sentenced Pannett to a 12-month community order with 150 hours of community service.

“As someone who works in the hospitality sector, you should have been aware of the dangers to yourself and others of partaking too much in the hospitality,” said magistrate David Walker.

“The officers had concerns for your wellbeing and shouldn’t have been subjected to such behaviour and the assaults.”

Pannett was also ordered to pay £150 compensation to PC Teixeira, £100 to PC Anderson, and £180 in court costs and fees.

The assaults happened on June 29 as Pannett, a £29,000-a-year senior sales executive at the Royal Albert Hall, attended the tennis championships.

“The officers were on dedicated patrols at the All England Tennis Championship, known as Wimbledon, when they identified a female who had left the ground,” said Mr Crivelli.

“She was heavily intoxicated, throwing her bag and possessions to the ground.

Laura Pannett (.)
Laura Pannett (.)

“Concerned for her welfare, they went to assist and she said she wanted to use the toilet. They showed her the way to the portable toilets in the park opposite.

“When she reappeared, she instantly became aggressive towards PC Teixeira by raising her arms and trying to punch and kick her. Contact was made against PC Teixeira with a knee to the groin area.”

The court heard Pannett, who has a first class honours degree in sports business management, spat at the PC after being taken to Wandsworth custody and also “assaulted PC Anderson by kicking her”.

Mr Crivelli said Pannett, who has a conviction from 2019 for battery and criminal damage, admitted in interview having “far too much” wine, adding: “I’m really sorry if I’ve hurt someone.”

“She is very ashamed and embarrassed at her actions,” said Ms Hirani.

“She was drunk to the point where she couldn’t remember what her actions were, but she accepted the police officers’ version of events.”

The court heard Pannett’s manager at the Royal Albert Hall is aware of the charges and had offered a character reference, describing the assaults as “out of character”.

PC Anderson, in a statement to the court, said she was “annoyed and disappointed” after the incident, saying: “I didn’t expect to come to work to be assaulted – our sole intention was to assist Laura to get home safely.

“She has had too much alcohol, causing her behaviour to become intolerable.”

Pannett, from Tooting, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by beating of an emergency worker.

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