A man who attacked two ambulance workers whilst armed with a meat cleaver in Fareham has been jailed.
At around 03:00 hours on 11 February 2021, an ambulance was dispatched to an address in Glenesha Gardens where 59-year-old Paul Searle was alleged to be suffering breathing problems.
Despite the efforts of the attending emergency workers to help Searle, he became aggressive and verbally abusive to the point that the ambulance crew left the address and returned to their vehicle.
Shortly after, Searle approached the ambulance armed with a meat cleaver and pulled the driver – Scott Bruce – out of the vehicle whilst threatening to cut his ear off.
The ambulance was reversing at this time and ended up colliding with a parked car.
The paramedic in the passenger seat – Emma Cooper – radioed for assistance and got out of the ambulance to find her colleague grappling on the pavement with Searle, before she assisted in restraining him.
As a result of this incident, Scott suffered a cut to his hand from the meat cleaver, which required stitches and physiotherapy, while Emma sustained a lump to her head.
Searle, of St David’s Road in Southsea, was subsequently arrested and charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent and assault on an emergency worker.
Following a three-day trial at Portsmouth Crown Court, Searle was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent on Wednesday, 23 November.
He had previously pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and threatening a person with a bladed article in a public place at an earlier hearing.
Appearing at Swindon Crown Court for sentencing on Friday, 27 January 2023, Searle was jailed for a total of 7 years.
His Honour Judge Cutler remarked that this was an ‘extremely frightening attack’ on dedicated emergency workers who were doing their job. He told the court:
“This country values its paramedics, we need them to do their jobs. The public supports them and the law will do what it can to protect them.”
DC Carla-Marie Moore, who led the police investigation, said:
“Emergency workers dedicate their lives to helping people in their time of need and keeping the public safe.
“An ambulance crew deployed that morning to help Mr Searle and provide him with medical support. He became aggressive and subjected two paramedics to a frightening attack which left them both with injuries and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“I am grateful to the support from South Central Ambulance Service during this investigation and wish both victims well in their continued recovery.”
Following the sentencing, Emma Cooper said:
“It’s come as a great relief to finally have some closure. I am proud of the actions that I took that night to prevent it from becoming a different outcome. No one in our line of work should have to face the possibility of not returning home to our families.
“Paul Searle decided he was going to subject us to that ordeal, and even though it all happened in a short space of time, the lasting impact has been profound.
“There are already too many reports of both physical and verbal abuse towards my fellow NHS colleagues, I really hope this case demonstrates that such behaviour will not be accepted nor tolerated.”
Tracy Redman, Head of Operations (South East Hampshire) at South Central Ambulance Service, said:
“I am pleased that justice has been served, and the length of the custodial sentence reflects the severity of the crime.
“Our ambulance crews provide a vital, lifesaving service to anyone who needs us at any time of day. It is imperative that they can work without fear, and I was pleased to hear in the Judge’s summing up that the public quite rightly loves our ambulance staff and want to ensure they are protected.
“I am hopeful that this sentence will act as a suitable deterrent and reduce the risk of other members of the ambulance service suffering the traumatic experience that Emma and Scott endured.
“I would like to thank our colleagues from Hampshire Police, along with the Crown Prosecution Service, for their support throughout this process.”
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