Man jailed for assaulting ambulance staff

 Monday 9th January 2017 – 2.30pm – Jamie Arrowsmith


Rob Burness.jpg

A man has been sentenced to 12 weeks in prison for assaulting a member of ambulance staff in West Bromwich.

After pleading guilty to assault by beating, Donald Hornby, 25, from Birmingham, was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison on Thursday, 5th January and ordered to pay £265 in fines.

The incident took place when West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) was called to Moor Street in West Bromwich on the evening of Wednesday, January 3rd. Mr Hornby was initially unconscious at the time of the call but after coming round then became aggressive, leaving Robert Burness, a technician, with a blooded face.

Speaking about the incident, WMAS General Manager for Birmingham, Nathan Hudson, said: “We welcome the fact that a custodial sentence has been issued in this case but are disappointed it is not longer. Is 12 weeks enough for a serious assault on a member of ambulance staff who had been called to try and help the defendant?

“It is extremely disappointing that our staff suffer physical and verbal abuse when all they are trying to do is help members of the public with medical emergencies.”

Steve Elliker, West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Regional Head of Security and Safety said: “It is completely unacceptable that ambulance staff, who are responding to help people who have serious medical conditions or injuries, should have to face violence and verbal abuse.

“The Trust has a zero tolerance policy in place and works extremely hard to bring the full weight of the law to bear on anyone who attacks our staff.  It is simply not acceptable that staff who are there to help people, suffer at the hands of patients, their relatives or other people at the scene. Any type of assault against our staff will not be tolerated.”


Notes to Editors: Pictured – Robert Burness. If used, please credit the image to West Midlands Ambulance Service.


  1. this is totally unacceptable he should have been sentenced to at least 12 months and been made to pay the costs of the wages and the losses to the ambulance service

  2. The problem is that this does not happen often enough where assailants are jailed for violent behaviour. A few years ago we had a female crew assaulted by a patient who didn’t want to go to hospital. He punched one in the chest and kicked the other in the groin before they could open the doors to let him out. When I inquired on behalf of the Trust I discovered the police arrested him then let him go home without charge. After some time we eventually got him to Magistrates court where we learned he was already on a suspended sentence for assault. All he got was an further extension to his suspended sentence to 12 months and made to apologies to the Staff and us 2 Officers who were at court on the day. The 2 staff left the Trust within the next 12 months very disappointed with the lack of justice. We lost 2 experienced and competent staff.
    Emergency staff need more support from Police and CPS to prosecute these thugs.

    1. Yes I Agree if you Assault staff you should be Prosecuted,My son is a Ambulance Technician around the Portsmouth Area up to Reading.He work’s for Private Company and is also in St John,He has been Assaulted at Least twice and so have his Colleagues it seem’s to be the normal thing.

  3. 12 weeks! What a total joke…. it’s about time fixed sentences were dictated by real people rather than old fuddy duddies who don’t even live in the real world…. Every day we see terrible crimes and assaults with little or no penalties yet in another article a motorist or everyday person gets hung out to dry over much less…

    With his custody and remission etc that individual will probably do about a week if that!!!!

    This is why we are becoming a third world and lawless country…. May your God help us all…

  4. There should a law past, that if any of the emergency service staff are attacked in this way or worse, then the offender should be locked up for an infinite period. Our men and women that serve in the emergency services do a hard enough job without getting pure abuse from the public.

  5. Sentencing people to jail for long periods of time can end up making them into more of a criminal.

    I’d like to see higher fines and compensation to the victim and Trust

  6. Not much mention of support given to Robert. I’m sure he got the right clinical care but I hope he was also offered lots of support and encouragement by the Trust too.

    1. Hi Alex…lots of support given to Robert from on the scene and on an ongoing basis – as much or as little as he wants. Supporting staff is key in these cases.

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