A 28-year-old man who filmed himself assaulting two police officers leaving one of them with serious facial injuries has been jailed for three years and 19 weeks.
Martin Williams, of The Groves in Bristol, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court today (Thursday 19 December) after admitting charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to resist/prevent arrest, assault on an emergency worker and criminal damage.
The charges relate to an incident in Padstow Road on Thursday 26 September in which a car being driven by Martin Williams was initially stopped by officers because a child was not properly secured in a child seat.
During the incident, Williams, who was filming on his mobile phone, kicked PC Matthew Williams in the head, before getting out of the car and running towards PC Andrew Gilbert, who he punched in the face as he was arresting a second man.
PC Gilbert suffered a deep laceration to his upper lip which needed 14 stitches, along with a swollen bruised left eye and a further cut to his face which may require further surgery.
In a victim impact statement given to the court, PC Gilbert said: “Initially the incident didn’t really sink in. Before I went home I started to think about how I would explain this to my wife and to my children. I’ve had to hide some of the facts of the incident from my children as I don’t want to upset them. My son couldn’t look at me initially due to the swelling on my face.
“In my 11 years as a police officer I’ve never experienced anything like this incident. I was completely defenceless when Williams punched me to the face…I felt it was a cowardly act.”
His colleague PC Williams said in his statement that in his 16 years’ service he’d never seen a more violent assault on a police officer, adding that part of him “feels guilt” at the serious injuries suffered by his colleague.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh submitted a community impact statement to the court to highlight the impact a rising level of assaults on officers is having on the policing community and the communities served by the Force.
Judge William Hart, in sentencing, said the statement reflected the Chief’s “proper and laudable” concern for the welfare and safety of officers and the anxiety of the adverse impact on the Force. He added: “They (assaults on officers) are all too frequent. These officers are the people to whom we all look to for own safety and security.”
Part of the Chief’s community impact statement read: “I am sufficiently concerned about this trend to have been moved to write this statement to highlight my growing concerns as I have an overriding professional obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of the community of officers and staff who work for Avon and Somerset Police.
“Not only is the growing trend of violence against front-line officers and staff compromising my own obligation to protect the Force community, it also compromises the ability of officers to keep the communities they serve safe.
“Since January 2019 to the end of October 2019, there have been a total of 1,090 assaults on Police Officers, Detention Officers and Police Community Support Officers employed by the Force. That works out as an average of 109 per month. On any reading this is a wholly unacceptable number and it’s having a significant impact.
“Officers and staff who are victims of assault while on duty take a number of days off as a result. This type of absence has a significant impact on the Force’s ability to safeguard communities, due to resulting shortages in available resources. We are less able to proactively police our communities, respond to incidents and investigate reported crime. Our ability to serve and protect relies on public support; trust and confidence in our service is vital.
“Violent assaults against officers and staff results in not only physical injury, but psychological injuries too, including anxiety and stress.
“Following an assault, many officers and staff find the return to frontline duties both challenging and traumatic. This can have a profound impact on their friends and families who are exposed to their negative feelings.”
Speaking after the case, Chief Constable Marsh added: “The body worn video footage of this incident shows the ferocity of the attack on two of our officers and gives the court a greater understanding of the violence they encountered that day. The injuries caused to PC Gilbert were horrific.
“It’s totally unacceptable for police officers and staff to come to work in fear of being assaulted. While they know the role carries with it a risk of violence when they sign-up, it should be an exceptional occurrence rather than the daily one it’s become.
“We’ve made a Seven Point Promise to our officers, staff and volunteers around the care and support they can expect to receive should they be a victim of assault. Now we need to focus firmly on getting to the root cause of the issue, as well as making sure those who assault emergency workers are brought to justice and given the punishment they deserve.”