Gosport thug who swiped PC's baton attacking another officer is spared jail

A CRACK addict fleeing police jumped over garden fences and swiped an officer’s asp before hitting another PC over the head repeatedly, a court heard.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 3:58 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 5:02 pm

Matthew Wagstaff, 31, was spared jail at Portsmouth Crown Court for the assault on PC Andrew Burnham in Gosport.

Prosecutor Roderick Blain told how dad Wagstaff was seen buying drugs but bolted when he was spotted by police in Lees Lane.

He hopped over garden fences before PC Burnham and PC Craig Bibby caught up with him in Pelham Road on January 30.

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Portsmouth Crown Court. Picture: César Moreno Huerta

As PC Bibby went to jump a wall the defendant swiped his asp. Wagstaff claims it was on top of the wall while police said it was pulled from PC Bibby’s hand.

Thug Wagstaff immediately swung at PC Bibby missing his head. As PC Burnham got into the garden with his asp drawn the pair clashed.

Police body-worn footage played in court reveals how PC Burnham shouted: ‘If you hit me you’re going down. I told you - put it down.’

Mr Blain said: ‘PC Burnham continues to approach him in a way to disarm him at the very least.

‘They end up face to face, both he and PC Burnham, with asps raised above their heads, and it comes to a stage where they come together, where PC Burnham is struck to his head.

‘They’re both on the ground and the defendant continues to hit him on the back of the head.’

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A shocked PC Burnham - who was recovering from a previous assault - suffered swelling to his head and a cut at the front that needed to be glued.

In the immediate aftermath he said: ‘Right that’s assault police. (He) hit me on the head, (he) just hit me on the head.’

Daniel Reilly, mitigating, played the footage in court and said it was momentary and the pair fell together when a fence panel collapsed.

Wagstaff admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm to PC Burnham, assaulting an emergency worker in relation to swinging at PC Bibby and having an offensive weapon.

He admitted earlier having crack cocaine on April 24, 2020, in Forton Road, Gosport.

Judge Tim Mousley QC imposed an 18-month term suspended for 18 months with drug rehabilitation requirement and 20 rehabilitation activities.

He must pay £500 compensation to PC Burnham, and £100 to PC Bibby, who said in a statement he felt a bit responsible for Wagstaff having his asp.

Judge Mousley said he suspended the sentence as Wagstaff could be rehabilitated, had strong personal mitigation, and custody would have a big effect on other people.

Mr Reilly said Wagstaff, of no fixed address, was in a caring role and had been clean of crack cocaine for a year.

Zoe Wakefield, chair of Hampshire Police Federation, said: ‘For the judge to give a suspended sentence in this case is completely unacceptable. This tells criminals that you can strike a police officer on the head, more than once, with a metal stick and not go to prison.

‘It's pure luck that the officer’s injuries are not more serious. We are supporting colleagues as best we can, but we now need the judiciary to support us and provide an appropriate punishment and appropriate deterrent for such awful crimes.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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