A man has been jailed for just 20 months after punching a police officer in the head so hard that he suffered a serious bleed on the brain.
27-year-old Joshua Gull hit PC Leo Clarke in Peterborough on 8th February 2021 when the officer responded to a call for help made from Gull’s grandmothers home.
Gull had become violent towards members of his own family who then called 999 for help.
Despite the reports of violence, the responding officer was single-crewed at the time.
24-year-old PC Clarke was sent to the call, and when he arrived on the scene, he found Gull and his father standing in the street.
Gull became agitated and reacted angrily when the officer activated his body-worn video camera, which officers must do when responding to certain calls.
Gull grabbed PC Clarke, who used his PAVA spray but to no avail as Gull adopted a fighting stance and punched the officer to the head.
PC Clarke then used his baton to stop Gull, who was arrested soon afterwards as he retreated inside the property.
When PC Clarke returned to Thorpe Wood Police Station, a welfare check by a supervisor discovered he was squinting and had started to slur his words.
He was taken to Peterborough City Hospital where it was found he had a bleed on the brain.
PC Clarke underwent urgent life-saving surgery and remained in hospital for five days before returning home where he continues to recover.
While in custody, Gull told officers he regretted what he had done and had been suffering with his mental health.
Gull, of Herne Road, Oundle, admitted causing grievous bodily harm without intent and was sentenced to one year and eight months at Peterborough Crown Court on 28th April.
Peterborough Crown Court was told PC Clarke has “life-changing” injuries.
A JustGiving page set up by Emergency Services News in the days after the incident raised £3,695 for the officer, thanks to the generosity of our readers.
Commenting on the fundraiser shortly after it was started, Leo’s partner said: ‘thank you for setting up the page, it’s a very sweet thing to do. Please may you put an update on the page just to say him and his family are all really grateful for the lovely messages and very generous donations’.
Prosecutor Michael Procter told the court the Cambridgeshire Police officer attended the Ledbury Road property and “from the outset the defendant appears to be behaving in an aggressive way”.
Mr Procter said PC Clarke asked for back-up, and after the incident, he “appeared to be alright, but then it was noticed he wasn’t and he was taken to hospital where he was found to have suffered a bleed on the brain”.
In a victim impact statement read in court, the 24-year-old officer said he had been advised there would be a “slow and long recovery”.
He has had his driving licence removed for six months because of double vision and said he would “love” to return to his job but had been left “feeling like a burden” on those around him.
DC Mat Belfitt, who investigated, said:
“This was a violent attack against a new-in-service police officer who was simply doing his job in responding to reports of concern for this man.
“On average, there are 42 assaults on officers in Cambridgeshire every month and this incident sadly highlights the dangers officers face on a daily basis.
“Being subjected to such abuse will not be tolerated and we will continue to take strong action.”
In a victim impact statement to the court, PC Clarke said:
“This incident has left me feeling like a burden on everyone.
“I used to love driving but it’s hard now as I have to be driven everywhere in relation to things such as appointments or even to go to the shop. I feel like a prisoner as such in my own house because the recovery is so slow and I would really like to go out with my family but I can’t due to the injury.
“I used to love going out with friends, drinking, going to work and socialising but I can’t do any of that now and that is really hard for me, just sitting at home and doing nothing.
“I was a really active person and for that now to be taken away, with the possibility that some of these injuries might never go away, makes me feel quite upset.”
In a further victim impact statement to the court, Chief Constable Nick Dean added:
“Police officers and staff are regularly subjected to violence and threats which too often result in injury.
“It is never acceptable to assume that assaults upon police officers and staff should be tolerated, it is not simply ‘part of the job’. While it is clear that the nature of policing requires members of the organisation to handle difficult and hostile situations, assaults upon them are serious and unacceptable.
“The public call upon the police to help them when they are most in need. We have a duty to protect the public, but we are all too often prevented from doing so due to violent individuals who choose to attack those who are there to help them.
“Most importantly it should be remembered that police officers and staff are people, they are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. When they are attacked they become victims just like any other, but victims who have been attacked while trying to protect others.”
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