Bristol thug walks free after assaulting policewoman
A Bristol thug who scarred a female police officer for life during a drunken rage walked from court smiling after avoiding jail.
Ryan Thomas sank nine pints of Stella lager while celebrating a birthday before punching PC Gemma Maggs, 27, in the face outside a kebab shop in Park Street.
She fell to the ground and suffered a wound from her forehead down to her nose, which needed four stitches.
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Thomas, 30, was told to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and pay PC Maggs, who had to take a month off work, £500 compensation.
On the same day a vandal who daubed graffiti on trains and buildings was ordered to carry out the same amount of community work at the same court – and told to pay almost £1,400 in fines and costs.
PC Maggs and colleague PC Stephen Powell had gone to restrain Thomas because they believed he was going to attack his own wife, who had made an offensive gesture towards him during the incident on May 17. PC Powell was also punched in the face for his troubles.
At Bristol Magistrates' Court yesterday Thomas, of Holton Road, Horfield pleaded guilty to assault causing PC Maggs actual bodily harm and guilty to assaulting PC Powell.
The father-of-two also has a previous conviction for assaulting a woman, the court heard.
Magistrates ordered a fast-track probation report and decided to impose an 18-week jail term on Thomas. But the sentence was suspended for a year, which means that Thomas will not serve a day behind bars if he manages to stay out of trouble until this time next year.
By coincidence, yesterday was also PC Maggs' first day back on duty, starting a shift hours after Thomas walked out of court.
Her mother Patricia Gare, 51, of Brislington, is furious at the sentence. She said: "If the justice system is not set up to punish those who assault police then what hope is there? We will have anarchy.
"That he can walk free is disgraceful. My beautiful daughter has been scarred for life by a man who clearly has no morals.
"What sort of man would hit a woman, never mind a female police officer? What sort of example is he setting his two young children?
"This whole incident has been hugely distressing for Gemma and the rest of the family. The least we all could have hoped for is that the courts would make an example of him. Now he is free to walk around smiling while Gemma has to live with a reminder of what he did for the rest of her days."
In court Annaphie Rogers, prosecuting, said: "It was 3.30am on May 17 when police were flagged down by an Asian man who said he had been racially abused in the Diamond Kebab and Pizza on Park Street.
"PC Gemma Maggs and PC Stephen Powell walked with the man to the kebab shop, where the defendant was pointed out. There was a large crowd of people – most of whom were intoxicated. The officers approached the defendant, asked him to come outside so they could speak to him.
"Once outside he became aggressive and was shouting and swearing at other people. A female in the group, the defendant's wife, made a gesture towards him and it made police believe that he may assault her.
"The defendant then punched PC Powell in the face. PC Maggs moved to intervene and the defendant punched her in the face and fled on foot. PC Powell chased after him and apprehended him.
"PC Powell suffered swelling to the left side of his face. PC Maggs had a large cut running down from her forehead to her nose which required four stitches and will result in permanent scarring.
"He said in interview that he had drank nine pints of Stella over the evening. He admitted swinging a punch after feeling a hand on his shoulder but says he didn't know it was a police officer. He said he did not remember assaulting a female officer."
Gayna Ide, defending, said her client entered guilty pleas to both charges after viewing CCTV evidence.
"He says he did not realise that they were police officers but accepts that is no defence," she said.
"He had consumed a large amount of alcohol that night. However, each assault was one blow. His anger had been fuelled by allegations being made against him that were not true."
She said Thomas had been before the court for a similar matter in 2005.