A man who carried out a violent attack on two police officers who went to his aid has been given a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.
In the early hours of 3 May, Dyfed-Powys Police were called by the Welsh Ambulance Service after their crew had seen Matthew James, aged 36, of Elm Grove, Pembroke, in dark clothing, stumbling along the B4318 between Gumfreston to Tenby.
PC Morgans and PC Knight responded to the call. As they were concerned for his safety, they gave him a lift home.
Although intoxicated, James was initially compliant.
However, when they arrived at his home address, James became aggressive and abusive towards the two female officers.
Despite the efforts of the officers to calm the situation, James’s behaviour escalated to violence, and he began punching the officers who had driven him the 12 miles home to safety.
Both officers were physically injured, with PC Morgans suffering a black eye and swelling to her head, which has left her with scarring.
PC Knight also suffered swelling to her face.
However, Dyfed-Powys Police said that the psychological impact on both officers is ‘something they say will take time to recover from’.
In a victim impact statement, PC Knight said:
“I am in the early stages of my career and I have never had to worry about my safety and definitely didn’t think I would have had to think twice about it when in my uniform.
“I trusted that by giving James a lift home that night that he would just be thankful and leave.
“Even when he was threatening to assault me and my colleague, I still did not think he would carry such a violent and unprovoked attack.
“He does not understand or realise the impact the whole situation has had on me in my personal and work life.
“After this is over, he will move on easily but unfortunately for me, it will take time.
“I am still a human underneath this uniform, I still have feelings, emotions and a family to go home to.”
PC Morgans said she replays the incident over in her head, still wondering who and why it went so wrong.
She added: “Nothing has changed, my face still has the injury, my mind still replays the incident.
“It isn’t just the effects of the night. It is the physical and emotional impact that it has had for all these days, weeks and months.
“It’s the getting up on rest days to phone the doctors and wait for the return call. Visits to the surgery, the hospital, appointments with opticians. My days off have been consumed with it.
“Then there is everyone asking me what happened and why. I still can’t answer that one.”
After a rise in such assaults, Dyfed-Powys Police has linked with Wales’ emergency services to launch the year-long ‘Work With Us, Not Against Us’ campaign.
It came after more than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, in the period April 2019 – November 2020, representing a monthly average increase from 202 in 2019 to 222 in 2020, or 10%.
Temporary Deputy Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, Emma Ackland, said:
“Assaults on police officers continues to increase and this is completely unacceptable.
“No officer should expect to come under any sort of attack when doing their best to serve the public and potentially save lives. It is vitally important that sentences given reflect the harm and upset caused to these victims – professionals doing their work.”
James was sentenced at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on 1 September. He was also ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and was given a four-month 8 pm to 8 am curfew.
He was also ordered to pay compensation of £625 to PC Morgans and £500 to PC Knight, as well as £85 costs.
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