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Suspended sentence given to man who kicked PC down the stairs

The officer fell head first after being kicked down the stairs while attending a domestic incident in Halifax, suffering injuries which left him 'within a whisker' of being permanently disabled.

The Chair of the West Yorkshire Police Federation says it "beggars belief" that a man who kicked a police officer down the stairs during a domestic incident has been given a suspended sentence.

Thomas Kitteringham was sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, after attacking a PC who had attended his Halifax home last November.

Craig Nicholls, who took over the role from Brian Booth in September, believes the sentence sends out the wrong message.

He told Police Oracle: "What we're saying is, 'you can kick an officer down the stairs and you won't go to prison'."

This view is shared by the region's Mayor, Tracy Brabin, who confirmed that she will be asking the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Yorkshire and the Humber to review the "rather lenient" sentence which she found "particularly troubling".

The PC, one of two in attendance, fell head first down the stairs after being kicked full force in the chest. Thankfully, his injuries were not as serious as first feared.

Kitteringham was originally charged with attempting to inflict GBH, before his guilty plea to assault occasioning ABH was accepted by the prosecution. He was sentenced on October 25.

Deputy Circuit Judge Timothy Clayson told Kitteringham that he had come "within a whisker" of leaving the officer permanently disabled, after he could not feel his lower body in the aftermath of the incident.

Mr Nicholls says that while he doesn't want people to be "put behind bars routinely", an example has to be set when it comes to the wellbeing of emergency workers.

"It's an attack on our society, one you start attacking police officers," he said.

"The officer told me about the incident, about the fear that went through his mind; the stress and the trauma of thinking he's going to be disabled."

Both he and Ms Brabin feel the decision not to impose a custodial term, a sentence Kitteringham's barrister conceded would've been deserved, goes against the spirit of efforts to properly safeguard police officers.

While the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker has now increased to two years’ imprisonment under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, it was the earlier Protect the Protectors campaign which got the ball rolling on stronger punishments. 

Spearheaded by Halifax MP Holly Lynch - and supported by the West Yorkshire Fed and Ms Brabin - this campaign saw new legislation passed in 2018 which doubled the maximum sentence from six to 12 months' imprisonment.

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