TWO teenagers claim they were assaulted by a market trader because he mistakenly thought they had stolen DVDs from his stall.

Alex Cope, 16, and Jason Watts, 17, say they were punched, scratched and dragged along the floor at the Sovereign Centre – even though they were innocent.

But the police say they will not take any action against the trader because they say he used “reasonable force.”

The trader, Simon Lent, has apologised for his mistake but denies attacking the boys.

Alex’s mother Lynn, 52, said: “My trust in the police has been completely shattered by this horrible experience. What he did was not reasonable force.”

Alex of Grantham Road, Boscombe, and Jason had each bought a DVD from the stall in Boscombe precinct on Saturday lunchtime and had walked into the Sovereign Centre when it is claimed the stall holder came up behind Jason and punched him in the side of the face.

Jason, studying animal care at Bournemouth College, said: “He took me to the floor and hit me, accusing me of stealing the DVD. I picked up the DVD and was saying to him ‘I paid for this with you’. He realised and said he was sorry and then turned on Alex.”

Alex, a Poole College music student, added: “He grabbed me by the neck and dragged me back to the market.”

Both Alex and Jason say they were left with scratches and bruises.

Lynn, who is lodging a complaint with the police, said: “This is absolutely not acceptable.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “Officers used their discretion and dealt with the matter appropriately and proportionately.

“A stall holder mistakenly believed that the two teenagers had taken a couple of DVDs from a stall without paying for them and used reasonable force to detain the two until police attended.

“As soon as it was established that the two boys had paid for their DVDs, the stall holder apologised, gave the DVDs to the boys for free and refunded their money as a goodwill gesture. It was a genuine mistake.”

Mr Lent told the Echo: “I completely deny assault. There’s no way that happened. I did stop them because I thought they had taken something and one of them fell over but I did not punch or hit anyone.

“When I realised I had made a mistake I apologised and refunded their money. I also apologised to the mum. What more can I do?”

Market manager Rod Wilson said: “I thought the matter had been resolved.”