Thug who was ‘off his face on gas’ is back behind bars after violent rampage on day he was released from jail

Kier Ruffell has been sniffing lighter fuel when he attacked a stranger.
Kier Ruffell has been sniffing lighter fuel when he attacked a stranger.

A violent thug launched an unprovoked attack on a town centre shopper and assaulted three police officers just hours after he was let out of jail.

Kier Ruffell has been put back behind bars after magistrates heard he was “off his face” on lighter fluid when he attacked a complete stranger in a South Shields jewellery store before pouncing like a “caged lion” on three police officers who came to arrest him.

He was off his face on gas

Christopher Brown

The 25-year-old had been back on the streets on licence for just hours on Friday after serving 15 months of a 30-month jail term he received for a burglary in December 2014.

Ruffell, of no fixed abode, admitted the four assaults and a fifth offence of using threatening, abusive or insulting words towards another police officer during the incident.

Magistrates locked him up for 20 weeks for the five offences.

Christopher Brown, defending, likened Ruffell’s rapid catalogue of crime to the plot of Hollywood thriller Falling Down.

But chairman of the magistrates Steven Bradley said his shocking actions were more like a scene from Death Wish.

Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said: “He had only been released on Friday, February 12, and these offences took place on that day.

“He is out on licence, which expires in April 2017. At 5.20pm on Friday, a man went into H Samuel jewellers in King Street.

“Ruffell followed him in and was abusive to the staff. He walked back out and started sniffing lighter fluid in the doorway, then went back inside, punched the man in the face and swung another punch at him, but missed.

Police who were called found Ruffell near South Shields Metro Station, and he was placed in a police van, but kicked out at one officer as he was being ushered into the station.

A detention officer insisted he be taken to South Tyneside Hospital for treatment due to his ‘bizarre and erratic’ behaviour.

Mr Anderson said that, once in the accident and emergency ward, Ruffell lashed out again, spitting and kicking one officer and hitting another before launching a racist tirade at a white officer, seemingly in the belief he was of Pakistani origin.

Mr Anderson added: “The opinion was ‘how disturbed was his thinking when he believed the white officer to be a member of the Pakistani race?’.”

When interviewed by police, Ruffell said he had no recollection of the incident.

Christopher Brown, defending, said: “He doesn’t really remember what happened at all. It is similar to how the day starts bad and keeps getting worse for the character in the American film Falling Down.

“He was off his face on gas. He had been in prison for 15 months and had been kept away from any substances. He has had some gas and has reacted very badly.

“He got himself ridiculously intoxicated on gas, senselessly so, but he has come to court and pleaded guilty straight away.”

Steven Bradley, chairman of the magistrates, told Ruffell; “Your solicitor says it was like the day in Falling Down, but it was more like Death Wish.”

Ruffell was jailed for 20 weeks and ordered to pay a total of £150 compensation.