A POLICE officer suffered a life-threatening condition believed to have been triggered by an assault on her when she and a colleague arrested a man on suspicion of having counterfeit currency.
PC Kate Potter and colleague PC Sofia Dewberry had been called to the Tan y Clawdd petrol station at Johnstown near Wrexham in August last year.
The pair arrested Patrick Gerard McDonagh but he grabbed firelighters from a display and struck PC Potter’s face.
As the struggle continued, McDonagh repeatedly punched PC Potter in the head.
Crown Prosecutor Karl Scholz told Mold Crown Court that PC Potter suffered bruising and swelling to her left cheek and a lump to the left temple as well as experiencing soreness to her left jaw bone.
Although PC Potter returned back to work on September 9 she had a headache and felt run down and tired, but put it down to having a slight cold.
She had intense pain in her head and ears which led her being taken to hospital as an emergency at 03:00 hours on September 17.
While in accident and emergency, her condition quickly deteriorated before she started to lose consciousness.
PC Potter was incubated by medical staff and ventilated.
Tests confirmed she had bacterial meningitis.
The officer remained in intensive care until 24th September when she was finally discharged.
The prosecution said that although CT and MRI scans did not identify any obvious skull based fracture or dural tear, such scans could not entirely exclude a tiny tear following head trauma which probably resulted in bacteria entering the cranial cavity leading to meningitis.
Mr Scholz said there was a strong temporal relationship between the assault, the development of the ear infection and the subsequent case of meningitis.
Doctor Dr Sam Sandow, who treated PC Potter said the assault was probably the causative factor and consultant forensic pathologist Dr Brian Rogers said it was “highly likely to be”.
Only last month the officer told how she continued to take pain killers for weeks and underwent physiotherapy after her discharge from hospital.
It took four weeks for her hearing to return to normal and a further three weeks for “popping” noises in her ears to stop.
In her statement she spoke of the emotional impact of the assault, that at the age of 37 she contracted a life-threatening illness, of the effect upon her family, how the assault had left her feeling vulnerable, and how she was still questioning whether she was doing the right thing by returning to work as a constable.
Judge Nicolas Parry said the offence occurred before new legislation which covers assaults on emergency workers came into effect.
He was left with a maximum sentence of six months for an assault on a police officer which, with maximum credit for a guilty plea, would reduce the sentence to four months.
But in total father-of-two McDonagh, 23, who has an address in Wembley, London, was jailed for a total of two years after he admitted two assaults on police, driving under the influence of cocaine and three separate occasions when he possessed or tendered counterfeit notes in Wrexham and Chester.
The ferocious attacked unleashed by McDonagh against the two female officers was only stopped when an unknown man went to their aid and restrained McDonagh in a headlock.
Judge Parry said: “The likelihood is that she suffered a life-threatening condition stemming from the blows to the head”.
The court heard how he had a number of previous convictions including three robberies.
Barrister Charlotte Johnson, defending, said McDonagh was expelled from school at the age of nine because of behavioural issues and had since that age worked in the scrap metal business with his father.
Got a story, video or one-off blog that you would like to share with us?
You can contact our team of former emergency services & armed forces personnel either through our Facebook page, via Twitter ( @ES_News_ ) or you can contact us via email: email@example.com or call us on: 0115 888 0592
If you run or manage a ‘job’ social media account and you would like us to share one of your stories then send us a tweet or a message!
If you would like to write an article that you would like us to share (it can be about anything to do with the emergency services / NHS) whether you serve in the emergency services / NHS or whether you are a member of the public who has had a good experience with the emergency services, then feel free to contact our team; anonymously if you prefer.
We are proud to act as a voice for the emergency services, armed forces & health service, with over 500,000 people visiting our website each month.