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Brothers convicted of attacking police officers at West Bromwich shopping centre

A pair of brothers have been found not guilty of attempting to murder two police officers at a shopping centre.

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Maninder Hunjan and Parminder Hunjan. Photos: West Midlands Police

Parminder Hunjan, 37, and Maninder Hunjan, 26, were cleared at Wolverhampton Crown Court of trying to kill the officers, but found guilty of wounding.

The brothers were spotted dressed in jackets and carrying backpacks in New Square Shopping Centre, West Bromwich, on July 21 last year.

During the trial the jury was told that one of the officers was "circled" as he was attacked after he and his colleague stopped the defendants.

Parminder Hunjan, who the court was told slashed at one of the officers while they deployed pepper spray, was found not guilty of attempted murder on account of both police officers on Wednesday.

Pc James Willetts

But the jury found him guilty of wounding Pc Leon Mittoo and Pc James Willetts with intent and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Maninder Hunjan was also cleared of attempted murder charges but was found guilty of wounding Pc James Willetts with intent and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Pc Leon Mittoo

He was found not guilty of wounding Pc Leon Mittoo with intent.

Both defendants also pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon.

The jury deliberated for five hours and five minutes.

Parminder Hunjan's backpack

They will be sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on May 9 and were remanded into custody until the sentencing hearing.

After the verdicts, Judge Michael Chambers said that the police officers performed in a most "courageous fashion".

The court was previously told it was a warm summer's day and that day was chosen by the police to mount an operation against knife crime.

A Section 60 order was in place which permits the police to stop and search as appropriate without any particular reason.

The jury was told that officers saw the defendants, who were with their sister outside Boots, and decided to follow them.

Maninder Hunjan's backpack

In the unfolding drama both defendants were photographed with weapons in their hands.

Mr Richard Sutton QC, prosecuting, said that the defendants were carrying rucksacks containing an "armoury" which included a ball-bearing BB gun, a revolver, a machete, a serrated blade, a hammer and a lock knife.

Giving evidence Pc Mittoo said he had joined the West Bromwich neighbourhood policing team days prior to the incident.

He told the jury that one of the defendants turned around to look at him while he was following them on an escalator. He said when they arrived on New Square he shouted to the men, who were accompanied by a woman, to stop.

He said he had seen a glint which seemed to be a knife and deployed pepper spray.

"I thought I was going to die. I was bleeding. I intended to survive," he told the court.

Pc Mittoo suffered a slash wound to his head which required stitches and cuts to his fingers while Pc Willetts suffered a wound to the back of his head.

Maninder Hunjan had told the jury that the approaching officers did not identify themselves as police and he thought they were just "some men" coming to attack them.

He said that on the morning of the incident he had been smoking cannabis.

Speaking after the verdicts, Pc Mittoo, who was wearing a stab vest at the time, described how Parminder had stabbed him numerous times to the back and hit him to the head.

He said he knocked Parminder to the floor, adding: "I've seen Parminder drop the knife in front of me and he's gone to grab it again so I've grabbed it from the blade end because I was in fear he was going to force it straight through me."

Discarded police uniform could be seen at the shopping centre after the attack. Photo: SnapperSK

Pc Mittoo described the moment he found out a knife was being used as "terrifying".

"You just have to act and use your training and senses you've got and act appropriately," he said.

"They were out to hurt people and potentially they could have done a lot of harm to members of the public.

"As officers we have to do everything in our power to defuse the situation."

The attack happened at West Bromwich's New Square Shopping Centre. Photo: SnapperSK

He said he had received support from the police force since the incident.

Pc Willetts, describing what it was like to be in that situation, said: "At that moment in time you don't think about yourself, you think about everyone else."

When asked if it had changed how he feels about his job, he said: "If anything it's solidified my choice to want to stay."

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