A young man who kicked police officers as he was arrested for causing damage at the hostel where he was living has been spared a prison sentence – because of the time he has already been in custody.
But Ryan Nelson was warned by a judge at Warwick Crown Court that if he breaches the suspended sentence, that time will not count towards any sentence he is then given.
Nelson (19) of Newbold Street, Leamington, had pleaded guilty to causing damage, having a bladed article in public and three charges of common assault on emergency workers.
He was given a 15-month prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work – with a further 150 hours for breaching an earlier suspended sentence.
Prosecutor Gary Cook said that in November last year Nelson became agitated over a post he had read on social media.
He was living at the Newbold Lodge hostel in Leamington at the time, and took out his anger by kicking the front door and a pay-phone, causing it to come off the wall.
He then went outside and damaged a fence panel before staff tried to calm him down and he returned to his room.
But Nelson then came down with a knife and made his way to Jephson Gardens, threatening to jump from a bridge and to take his own life.
The police were alerted, and after he had returned to the hostel officers attended and he was arrested.
As they were taking him outside, Nelson became agitated and kicked out at two officers behind him, striking them both to their legs.
There was a struggle as they then tried to restrain him, during which a third officer suffered reddening to his arm as they stumbled down the stairs.
Mr Cook said that when Nelson was interviewed he said he had mental health difficulties, but did not seek to justify his behaviour and apologised.
Mr Cook added that Nelson had previous convictions for causing damage, assaulting an emergency worker and possessing a bladed article, and at the time was subject to two community orders and a suspended sentence.
Joshua Purser, defending, said: “The strongest mitigation is that he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and indicated his remorse prior to that in the police interview.
“He has now been remanded in custody since the 14th of November, so has served the equivalent of a 16-month sentence.
“The question is whether the sentence is to be an immediate one, or whether it’s an opportunity for the court to provide support for this defendant.”
Mr Purser added that Nelson was on medication at the time of the incident, and while in custody the dosage has been adjusted to a level which is benefiting him.
Recorder Balraj Bhatia QC commented: “It is aggravated by the fact that these were three emergency workers doing a difficult job in difficult times.”
He told Nelson: “I acknowledge that you have had difficulties. A lot of that was to do with a lack of care in terms of the medication you require.
“You have now been in custody for the equivalent of a 16-month sentence, and during that time you have had some proper care from the mental health service, which means your medication has been properly regulated.
“I appreciate you have had a difficult background, but your problems cannot become society’s problems.
“The police do a very difficult and challenging job in very difficult and challenging conditions. When most people keep two metres away from each-other they are on the front line, and they need to be protected.
“You need to learn that. Every time you are there working for the community you should be reminded of why you are there.”
And of the time Nelson has spent in custody, Recorder Bhatia warned him: “That is not something you can count again if you breach this order.”