Yob who spat at cop given one last chance

CLOSE TO JAIL ... Ian Stafford.

CLOSE TO JAIL ... Ian Stafford.

A YOB who spat at a police officer as he was being arrested for possessing drugs has been warned he was ‘extremely close’ to being put behind bars.

Magistrates slammed Ian Stafford for his ‘descipable and deplorable’ actions – before handing him a second suspended sentence order.

The 26-year-old – suspended for 18 months – for assaulting a police officer and offences of battery and theft at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court last July.

But he avoided jail after the court heard he has began to ‘turn his life around’ and is complying ‘extremely well’ with the probation service.

Stafford, of Beach Road, South Shields, pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis and obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Both offences took place on February 12 of this year.

He was given a second eight-week suspended sentence – to run for two years – for obstructing the police officer, with no separate punishment handed out for the drug possession.

The length of his existing suspended sentence was extended to two years.

John McGlone, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was seen by police on Crossgate in South Shields. He was searched and a clear plastic bag was found on him containing cannabis bush.

“He resisted arrest by attempting to spit at the officer, and tried to escape from the back of the police van before being handcuffed.

“He accepted he was in possession of the cannabis, which was worth about £5. He said he couldn’t recall anything about the resisting arrest offence.”

David Hatfield, defending, said: “When he was arrested, he lost his temper and behaved in a way he now recognises was unacceptable.

“Through me, he asked to apologise to the police officer.

“He has not committed any offences for a long time. He has been on the suspended sentence for several months.

“He has accomodation he has remained in since September and has also stopped drinking.

“He is turning his life around. He is co-operating with the probation service, has bought into what they they are offering and is doing really well on the order.

“Give him a last chance. If he gets into any more trouble, he won’t have anyone else to blame but himself.”

A probation service statement read out in court confirmed that Stafford was making progress with the probation requirements of his suspended sentence and complying with staff.

Christopher Hutchinson, chairman of the magistrates, said: “Spitting at the police constable is an absolutely despicable act. It is deplorable.

“We do believe this offence warrants custody and there will be a custodial sentence of eight weeks for obstructing a police constable. However, we will suspend that for two years.

“You were very, very close to going to jail, extremely close.”

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