A BEXLEY police officer accused of assaulting a 14-year-old boy says the youngster showed a "level of violence and aggression" that justified his actions.

Steven Rea, 39, of Daleside Close, Chelsfield, is charged with common assault following the incident at Bexleyheath Police Station on October 13 last year.

CCTV footage appears to show Rea reacting to the boy sticking his middle finger up.

He appeared to grab the boy by the throat, drop him, pick him up and drag him into a police custody cell.

Today Rea told Westminster Magistrates' Court: "He was just not cooperating in any way, shape or form. He was just silent from the word go.

"The finger was the final act that he was fully alert and aware of his surroundings and made it quite clear that he was just being uncooperative.

"It showed a level of violence and aggression.

"I was not angry, I was trying to elicit a response from him.

"I knew he was conscious. I knew he was alert. I knew he was awake. I expected him to hold himself up and use his own body weight."

He added that he thought the youngster was 16 or 17 and did not believe him to be 14.

In his closing statement, defence counsel Billy Emlyn Jones said: "Police officers have a difficult job to do.

"They sometimes have difficult situations in the face of hostility and aggression.

"Rea is not just someone of good character but someone of exemplary character, without any disciplinary record.

"The boy was someone who did know where he was and what was happening and he chose not to cooperate.

"The use of force was not just necessary but completely inevitable in dealing with him.

"In acting as he did, Steven Rea was doing what he needed to do.

"All he did was try and pick him up. He didn't slap him or kick him or punch him, he picked him up, which was the least he had to do.

"He wasn't going to get him to a cell without picking him up.

"He tried to pick him up, he was expecting to get a reaction out if him. He was not expecting to encounter a rag doll, a dead weight.

"He picked him and dropped him because he misjudged the amount of force that he required to do this.

"He was entitled to put the boy in a cell and he did this with no more force than was required.

"He was doing his job, doing a difficult job, doing it as best he could and using reasonable force."

A Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) investigation was launched after CCTV was reviewed of the youngster being brought into custody.

Rea, who is ranked as sergeant, is currently suspended from duty.

District Judge Jeremy Coleman is currently considering his verdict.