Thursday 2nd November 2017 – 6.00am – Murray MacGregor.
West Midlands Ambulance Service is so disappointed in the sentence handed down to a man convicted of assaulting two staff, that the Trust has written to the Attorney General asking for it to be reviewed.
It comes after one paramedic had her wrist broken and another suffered cuts and bruising to his lower legs after being kicked by the defendant, who was wearing steel toe capped footwear, while they tried to help him.
The unusual step of making the appeal was taken after Adam George James was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on 25th October 2017 to a 14-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years; he was also ordered to carry out 150 hours community service and pay a victim surcharge to the courts of £140. He was charged with Actual Bodily Harm and Common Assault.
On 12th July 2016, James assaulted the ambulance crew that came to help him after he was found unconscious in a public place in Birmingham city centre.
The ambulance staff arrived on scene and started pre-hospital clinical support prior to transportation to hospital. During the clinical assessment, the defendant regained consciousness and started to use foul language towards the crew. Despite this, they continued and persuaded him to have an ECG check and intravenous access be obtained for the administration of drugs if required.
With no warning, James struck both clinicians with his feet resulting in both crew members needing hospital treatment and were booked off sick from operational duties for 6 weeks to 2 weeks respectively.
Paramedic Amy Holtom, who suffered the broken wrist said: “I think this is appalling and shows how little the courts think of us. Anyone else would have been looking at time in jail, but yet again ambulance staff have been let down by the legal system.”
WMAS Trust Chief Executive Officer,Anthony Marsh, who requested the appeal, added: “The sentence is extremely lenient given the traumatic injuries sustained and emotional upset experienced; I find it hugely frustrating that so many of my staff have been let down by the sentences given.
“There is no question in my mind that this warranted a custodial sentence. As well as the pain, suffering and emotional scarring of these staff, the public lost the services of two highly trained ambulance clinicians for a total of eight weeks. Those shifts had to be covered which meant overtime and additional cost to the NHS at a time when budgets are already stretched.
“The legal system is there to protect emergency workers who risk their lives for others and it is their expectation that the courts will ensure the full force of the law is applied in such cases.”
The Trusts Head of Security, Steve Elliker, said: “Whilst we welcome the new Private Members Bill to provide emergency workers with enhanced protection, the Ministry of Justice has made it quite clear that there is no reason why the courts cannot hand down custodial sentences based on current legislation.
“It is never appropriate for staff to be abused verbally or physically. It is almost unbelievable that even this level of violence did not result in a custodial sentence. It is time that the Courts handed down sentences that act as a deterrent against
I fully support your comments concerning assaults on your staff. Unfortunately, it seems to me that violent assaults on anyone, be they teachers, shopworkers, bank staff, members of the general public etc are all treated too leniently by the courts – and that’s if they even get taken to court!
good to see a C/E with “bottle” and the strong support for staff injured on duty by “thugs”. If everybody now contacts their MP requesting that they support this appeal and show their support for their emergency life savers.
I think this is disgusting. If it was a police officer they would of been jailed. So why cant they treat ambulance staff the same? I think he should of been jailed, its like the courts couldn’t be bothered. How is 150 hours any suitable punishment, seriously starting to wonder about this so called “legal system” in this country.
I’m an ex-MPS police officer – I had the top of my left middle finger bitten off in an unprovoked attack once. The suspect was given a caution. I ended my shift in hospital four times in my career, no-one was ever charged. A friend was carried along by a stolen car and had her face muscles detached from her skull – the suspects defence team blamed her equipment and he got off.
Another was assaulted by a drug mule at the airport who slammed his head in a container door causing a concussion. My colleague captured the man after a struggle and was counter-sued for police brutality after sustaining minor injuries in the struggle. Because the officer delayed writing his notes, and couldn’t remember the exact details while he received treatment for the concussion, the case was dropped and he spent two years in limbo waiting for the civil action to complete (with an unsatisfactory result)
CPS have always had a blind spot for assault on police, it is one of the major causes of friction between the police and their lawyers.
I think it is utterly disgusting that justice is not carried out these paramedic work in all weather conditions all unsociable hours sometimes even double shifts …for what to have a hurdle of abuse and physical abuse the system is a joke…im very worried for there welfare 😡😠
Why was he convicted of actual bodily harm? What was he charged with? Was the broken wrist a secondary injury caused by a fall, a fall caused by the kick?
Based on the evidence in this article a purposely broken wrist requiring weeks of recovery should constitute an intentional Grievous Bodily Harm (sec 18 Offences Against the Person act 1861). The sentencing guidelines are far higher than an ABH, from 5 years to life. ABH being described as causing discomfort or impediment that was not trivial or transitory – bruising or spraining. Common assault being assault that was trivial and transitory.
As a former CID detective I would have pressed for a charge of Sec18.GBH against Amy’s attacker. When legal counsel started talking about lowering the charges to secure an early guilty plea, I would have reminded them about their obligations to ensure the law is seen as a deterrence, to prevent further injury, especially against those who are routinely exposed to violence through their work. And I would have asked them not to consider the cost of a full trial.
The problem here isn’t sentencing, if this was the defendants first violent offence the sentence given is in line with ABH, Even if aggravated by the second assault and directed against emergency crew.
In deficit of the full case papers, the problem here appears to be insufficient drive in investigation and prosecution. It isn’t always a costing issue, the risk of a full court case, against a good counsel, before a jury, after a not-guilty plea can convince many a lawyer to expedite a simpler conviction. We have to remember that Lawyers work for us, their personal win/loss ratio shouldn’t be a factor. We should also understand the law and how it works if we want the full protection of it.
Hesitation in prosecution can also be caused by poor evidence. Achieving best evidence in the vital first few hours is usually the key to such cases. This is where body cameras, forensics, early witness statements and medical evidence are key. Was enough done to secure that evidence at the scene?
The best form of self-defence is to prevent further attacks. A determined collective reaction, is the best help we can offer the next colleague to face a threat.