Pc acted bravely and thoughtfully when threatened by woman with suspected HIV-infected syringe in Leamington

A brave policewoman who was threatened with a suspected HIV-infected syringe on a Leamington canal towpath held back from using her gas spray because she did not want to endanger the woman threatening her.

The offender was given a restraining order
The offender was given a restraining order

In the end, the 45-year-old was finally arrested after she moved away from the canal and was ‘red-dotted’ by another officer with a Taser.

Depite being at risk, Pc Katherine Summers said she was worried that Rachael Wheeler would fall in the canal.

In the end Wheeler, 45, was finally arrested after she moved away from the canal and was ‘red-dotted’ by another officer with a Taser.

Psychiatric reports subsequently concluded that Wheeler suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and, having been transferred from HMP Peterborough to a psychiatric unit, was unfit to stand trial on a charge of affray.

So the jury at Warwick Crown Court was asked to decide whether Wheeler, of Denby Close, Leamington, ‘did the act alleged’ – and took just a quarter of an hour to decide she did.

On the recommendation of two psychiatrists, and being told a bed at a psychiatric unit in Erdington, Birmingham, would continue to be available, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano made Wheeler subject to a hospital order under the Mental Health Act.

Prosecutor Mark Williams said that in August last year the police received a report at shortly after midday of a naked woman running up and down the towpath of the canal parallel to Old Warwick Road in Leamington.

Pc Summers said that when she got there with a special constable, she saw a woman, by then wearing a bright orange t-shirt but naked from the waist down, 100-metres ahead of her.

As she got closer she recognised the woman as Wheeler, who she said she had dealt with on a number of occasions.

She said: “I could see she had blood running down her legs. She was squatting down and jabbing at her legs.

“When I got closer I was able to see it was a syringe which appeared to have blood in it.”

“She shouted that if I came any closer, she would stab me with the syringe.

“I drew my incapacitant spray to try to gain some kind of compliance, but I didn’t want to use it so close to the water because the last thing we want is someone falling into the canal.

Ordering Wheeler’s detention, Judge de Bertodano said: “She has been found to have done the act with which she was charged in an incident in which she threatened police officers with a potentially infected syringe.

“I have the written evidence of two psychiatrists. Both conclude she is suffering from a treatable disorder, and both take the view the most appropriate way of dealing with her is by making an order of detention under section 37 of the Mental Health Act.”