AN alcoholic who headbutted a police officer hours after appearing in court was jailed for 17 weeks – after his own solicitor urged magistrates to lock him up for his own good.
Prolific criminal Steven Smith, 30, who has nearly 80 previous convictions, headbutted the female officer in the face, and tried to bite her arm as she arrested him.
The officer was called to King Street in South Shields on May 20 after reports of a drunk man lying on the ground at 6.15pm.
Earlier that day, Smith had been handed a six-month conditional discharge for resisting arrest from a police officer and criminal damage.
Smith, of Burnham Street, South Shields, was due to appear before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court last Thursday to answer the charges, but failed to show up and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He stood before magistrates a day later to plead guilty to assaulting a police officer, breaching a conditional discharge, failing to surrender and another charge of criminal damage from June 10, when he smashed the window of a telephone box in King Street, South Shields.
Prosecuting, Paul Clark said: “At 6.15pm, police were called to reports of a drunk man lying on the ground in King Street.
“The police officer spoke to the male (identified as Steven Smith) and he became agitated.
“Without warning, he headbutted her in the nose. Thankfully, she wasn’t cut. He was taken to the rear of the police van, where he tried to bite her left arm. It didn’t cause any injury.”
Defending, Charlton Carr said Smith needed the ‘short, sharp shock’ of a prison sentence if he was to get his life back on track.
Mr Carr said: “He is a man I have known for some time. He is no stranger to these courts.
“He does have significant problems with alcohol and tablet abuse. My understanding is he consumes two to three bottles of vodka a day and 60 tablets.
“He has had a liver transplant in the past, due to his abuse. One time he ‘died’ in hospital and had to be revived. He is not a man in good health.
“He will not see his next birthday if this abuse continues – the situation is that stark.
“To be frank, my conscience would be pricked if I tried to persuade you to release him. I feel the best thing for him is prison, and he accepts that.
“A short, sharp shock would get it in his head that he needs to help himself to survive.
“He headbutted a police officer and has then gone on to try to bite her. He has no recollection of these events due to the state he was in.
“In the morning he was in court, and then on the night he commits an offence similar to what he was given a conditional discharge for.
“If he goes to prison, he would go to the hospital wing and have no direct access to substances.”
Chairman of the magistrates, Gary Cracknell handed Smith a 17-week sentence – reduced from 26 weeks due to his guilty plea.
No costs were ordered.
Mr Cracknell said: “This was a sustained and repeated assault on an officer trying to carry out her duty. We see this as passing the custody threshold.
“The aggravating features are that you were subject to a conditional discharge and under the influence.”