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Wiltshire Police Federation

Drunk who strangled police officer walks free from court

7 January 2018

Wiltshire Times - Court Reporter 

A MAN who drank 20 pints then strangled a police officer and bit another in a vicious assault has walked free from court.

Joseph Theobold, of High Street, Highworth, carried out the brutal attack last July after officers were called to a wine bar in the town at around midnight.

Complaints had been made about the 29-year-old threatening and shouting at his girlfriend but before officers arrived, Theobald left and went home.

Prosecuting at Swindon Crown Court, Colin Meeke told the court that officers were concerned about his girlfriend’s welfare due to her also being drunk so decided to take her home.
“Once they arrived, all the defendant was interested in was telling them to leave,” Mr Meeke said. “His behaviour escalated very quickly and was more than what the officers are used to, so they switched on their body worn cameras.”

The court was shown the 16-minute footage in which Theobald shouted obscenities before shoving his partner. At this point, the officers attempted to handcuff him.

However, in a violent rage, Theobald resisted and bit the arm of PC Baker. The officers pressed their emergency button for backup and Theobald was subsequently sprayed with CS spray, but it took no effect.

In the footage shown to the court, Theobald also grabbed the throat of PC Diamon before putting his hands on her face. She screamed for him to stop.

Mr Meeke added: “At one stage, the defendant takes hold of PC Diamon’s throat and began strangling and throttling her which is when you can hear PC Baker saying ‘get off my colleague’. She said she has suffered the effects of the CS spray and was unable to breathe and said she believes their lives were in danger.

“The defendant was interviewed and didn’t remember what happened but was horrified by the footage. He appears to show some genuine remorse and distress at what he was watching.“However, this was the defendant giving all he could to hurt these officers as much as he could.”

PC Diamon was off duty for four weeks as a result of her injuries including whiplash, muscle spasms and pain in her neck which required physiotherapy. Along with PC Baker, the pair both suffered nightmares.

PC Baker had bite marks up and down his arm.

Theobald, who works at the Swindon Advertiser as a media sales executive and tutors primary school children in English and maths, pleaded guilty to one count of assault thereby occasioning actual bodily harm and one count of assault with intent to resist arrest.

Defending, Sambreen Arif told the court: “It is right for me to tell you that this man, of previous good character, is thoroughly and deeply ashamed of his behaviour. After this incident, he clearly needed some advice and help about the amount of alcohol he had and contacted SWADS (an alcohol dependancy service) to start one-to-one counselling.

“He was always very honest and open with Newsquest [owner of the Swindon Advertiser] and has been disciplined under the company’s procedures and is on a final warning.

“It is a completely out of character incident and something that shocked him into attending SWADS to try and address the root cause of why he behaved in that manner.”

Sentencing him, Judge Robert Pawson outlined the severity of the offence, but after hearing mitigating factors, he imposed a 14-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

He said: “If there was an example of selflessness by officers then this would be it. Each of these police officers, and I say this having seen and heard the footage, conducted themselves with constant professionalism and commendable self-control, performing their duties to the highest standard.

“You said on a number of occasions that you were going to kill them and given the way you were behaving, I’m not surprised they feared for their lives.

“I do not want to risk throwing the baby out with the bath water but your two victims deserve compensation. It won’t undo what you did to them, but it might serve some recompense. I am giving you one chance and one chance only.”

He was also told he must continue working with SWADS for alcohol treatment and carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. Additionally, he must pay £2,000 to each police officer in compensation.

Following the sentence, Assistant Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, from Wiltshire Police, said: “Regrettably it has become an unsettling fact of life for police officers and staff that they very often face abuse and violence while they are going about their work serving and protecting the public.