A former Herts police officer has been convicted of assaulting a man in Watford with a “wet fire” pepper spray.

William Owen, of Longman Court Stationers Place, Hemel Hempstead, was found guilty on February 5 of administering a noxious substance in an attack on November 7, 2021, while he was on duty.

The 30-year-old appeared at at Peterborough Crown Court also charged with assault occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (ABH), but was not found not guilty by the jury. He was instead convicted of common assault, a lesser offence.

Owen was accused of using Pelargonic Acid Vanillylamide (PAVA) on the man, a synthetic pepper spray used by police officers, which is easier to target than conventional pepper spray and can be used from up to 15 ft away.

Lincolnshire Police likens PAVA to “wet fire” due to the feeling when it comes in contact with a person’s eyes.

He will be sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court on March 22.

Hertfordshire Police said while Mr Owen has already resigned, he will now face a formal “accelerated” misconduct process which could see him barred from policing for life. 

Assistant Chief Constable Genna Telfer said: “Any incident where an officer acts unlawfully undermines public trust and we take this very seriously, especially in cases where excessive force is used. 

“The investigation in this case and subsequent conviction of ex-PC Owen was prompted from concerns raised by other officers over PC Owen’s conduct. 

“This demonstrates a commitment internally to remove individuals who fall below the standards we expect.”