London: A father with Parkinson’s disease was arrested as he watched the Olympic cycling road race because he ‘failed to smile or look like he was enjoying himself’.
Mark Worsfold, a martial arts trainer and former soldier, claims that he was thrown to the floor and handcuffed just as cyclists passed by.
His worried wife Nicola only found out he was being held after she reported him missing when he did not turn up for their daughter’s ninth birthday party.
The 54-year-old had his fingerprints, DNA and mugshot taken before being questioned about why he did not appear to be enjoying the event on July 28.
Police said Worsfold, who was held for over five hours, was arrested because of ‘his manner’.
But Worsfold, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010, said that one of the symptoms of the disease is muscle rigidity, which can cause his face to become expressionless and mask-like.
Worsfold, who had stopped to watch the men’s road race in Leatherhead, Surrey, after holding a Taekwondo demonstration nearby, said officers told him he was being arrested and taken to Reigate police station because he was not smiling.
‘I was sitting minding my own business,’ he told a local newspaper. ‘Before I knew anything the police grabbed me off this seven-foot wall, threw me to the floor and cuffed me so all I saw of the cycle race was between the feet of people from the pavement.
‘I was arrested for not smiling. I have Parkinson’s.’
Surrey Police said he was initially arrested on suspicion of a public order offence but was ‘given words of advice’ before being ‘released with no further action’.
A spokesman added that he was found to be in possession of a legal folding knife and several rubber knives which had been used for his Taekwondo demonstration.
In a statement, the spokesman added: ‘‘There were a number of factors which led officers to make this arrest, including the fact the race was approaching, the heightened level of security due to the high profile nature of the event and the sheer number of spectators.’