Nelson drug addict’s ‘super human’ attack on police

A drug user who attacked three police officers over as many hours, appeared to have “super-human strength and energy,” a court heard.
Burnley Magistrates Court.Burnley Magistrates Court.
Burnley Magistrates Court.

Burnley magistrates were told how Paul James Lee Ashworth (35) who had been found virtually unconscious in a Nelson street, fought with officers in the back of an ambulance. He had tried to sink his teeth into them and kick them and also attempted to bite himself. Ashworth, whose out-of-control behaviour caused the ambulance crew to feel at risk, had to be restrained in a chair using belts. One of the officers described holding him down during the three-hour incident as “exhausting.”

Ashworth claimed a drug given to him when he was being treated by paramedics, combined with the heroin substitute methadone he was already taking, had caused the violence. But, the hearing was told, he had taken enough methadone to pretty much knock him out.

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The court heard the defendant’s pre-sentence report stated he didn’t really express remorse and didn’t accept any responsibility for his actions.

Ashworth, of Barkerhouse Road, Nelson, admitted assaulting PCs Anthony Beckett, Chris Duckworth and Glenn Wright, in August last year. He had earlier denied the allegations but changed his plea on the day he was due to stand trial.

He was given a 12-month community order, with a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement, a six-month drugs programme and a six-week curfew, between 8pm and 8am. The defendant was ordered to pay £200 costs, £150 compensation and a £60 statutory surcharge.

Adnan Hanif (defending) said Ashworth didn’t remember anything about the incident. The solicitor continued: “He would say he’s not really a violent man. He has no previous convictions for violence”.

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The solicitor said: “His offending has gone down very recently and he has not committed as many offences. He has been on bail for these proceedings for quite a number of months and he hasn’t since then committed any further offences of violence.”

Mr Hanif added: “This gentleman does have issues that need to be tackled.”

Sentencing, District Judge James Clarke told the defendant the incident was serious. He said it was a prolonged course of conduct over a number of hours.

The district judge continued: “This was a sustained attack where police officers were placed at risk and you were placed at risk, as were members of hospital staff.”

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District Judge Clarke added: “What has dissuaded me from sending you immediately to custody is that the officers didn’t receive any injuries of note and you don’t have a history of violence, because if you did you would go to prison.”