An alcoholic threatened to stab a member of the public outside his own home before assaulting a police officer at Great Western Hospital.
At Swindon Magistrates’ Court on Monday (14 March), James Jonathan Howells, 36, pleaded guilty to threatening behaviour and assaulting an emergency worker.
Prosecutor Keith Ballinger said Wiltshire Police were called to reports of a heavily intoxicated man making threats to people in Fullers Avenue, Cricklade, at 4am on 12 September last year.
The defendant, of Heronbridge Close, Westlea, was told to “kindly f**k off” by a local resident after he was awoken by shouting, swearing and banging outside.
In response to this, Howells became even more abusive – threatening to stab the victim as he walked towards him shouting “come over here, don’t test me”.
In an attempt to call his bluff, resident Christopher Clark asked to see the knife, but one was not produced by the defendant.
Police officers arrived on scene and located Howells. A search of his person revealed that he was not in possession of a knife, despite making the concerning threats.
He was arrested and placed into a police van – where he repeatedly hit his head on the cage. Howells suffered a cut to his head and he was taken to Great Western Hospital.
On arrival, doctors refused to treat him after he verbally abused them.
PC Craig Head – and his colleague – put Howells back into the van, where he continued to hit his head. Concerned for his safety, the defendant was removed and restrained to prevent further injury. During this, he kicked out at PC Head’s shins, causing him pain and discomfort.
In a custody interview, he told officers he had attended a party and has very little recollection of any of that evening’s events.
The court heard that Howells has previous assault offences on his record – including five against police officers. The last assault conviction was in 2020, and he served a prison term for breaching a non-molestation order in December 2021.
Richard Williams, defending, said his client has served two custodial sentences since the date of these offences – including 18 weeks for contacting his ex-partner, despite a non-molestation order being in place.
“You will not be surprised to learn that the offences before you were committed whilst he was in drink”, he told the magistrates.
Adding that Howells has struggled with mental health issues and alcoholism for many years, but he is now abstaining after serving a prison sentence. He is medicated and has reached out to Turning Point in a bid to “try and sort this issue out for once and for all”.
Mr Williams, who described events as an “ugly incident”, said that the defendant accepts his “loutish ways”.
“It is a night Mr Howells won’t easily forget”, he added.
Magistrates imposed a six-week prison sentence and suspended it for 24 months to allow Howells to try and turn his life around. He must pay £50 compensation to PC Head, £85 costs and a £128 surcharge.
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