The smirking madman who made PC fear for life
A "LUNATIC" who left a policewoman fearing she would die after he held her face down in water during a drunken attack was jailed for over three years on Thursday.
PC Angela Melia (33) had been called out over alleged vandalism when she was grabbed by James Brand (23) as he struggled with officers at Gartmorn Dam.
She was pulled down in the attack ending with her face in the water and realised when she tried to get her head out that she was being held down.
Advocate depute Iain McSporran told the High Court in Edinburgh, "She began to panic and inhaled water and silt.
"The sandy floor of the dam made it difficult for her to get a secure hand or foot hold the better to break free and witnesses saw her struggling and thrashing about in an effort to break free from the accused's hold."
"She believes that the weight of her stab-proof vest also contributed to her inability to break the surface of the water."
Her colleague PC Mark Ormesher tried to free her and managed to push Brand backwards into the water before spraying him with CS gas.
Brand, who was out on two bail orders over assault allegations, still continued to struggle and fight after he was handcuffed.
A judge told him he would have faced a five-year prison term for the attack, but for his early guilty plea.
Lord Brailsford said it was "of the utmost public importance" that police should be able to carry out their duty to investigate crime without interference as he sentenced Brand to 40 months behind bars.
The court heard Brand's victim had been left traumatised by the ordeal - she became agoraphobic and suffered nightmares in the weeks after.
Lord Brailsford told Brand that for a person of his age he had a "substantial" criminal record including convictions for assault.
Unemployed Brand, of Woodlands, Sauchie, was originally charged with attempted murder following the attack on 1 July this year.
But the Crown earlier accepted his guilty plea to a reduced charge of assaulting PC Melia to her injury and the danger of her life by seizing her by clothing, causing her to fall into the dam and forcibly holding her head in the water. He also pled guilty to resisting arrest.
The court heard that Brand has previous convictions for violence, disorder and breaching bail.
PC Melia and her colleague were called out to the dam after a report that two men had been damaging cars parked at the leisure spot.
Brand was one of two males seen walking away from the area and was pointed out to the officers. They caught up with them and spoke to the other man.
Brand kept walking away down an embankment towards the dam and was approached by PC Ormesher.
Mr McSporran said, "He was seen to be under the influence of some substance, swaying from side to side. He adopted an aggressive and uncooperative demeanour."
Brand walked backwards towards the water despite being warned against it.
PC Melia went to help her colleague with the other man warning her, "You better watch him, he's a f***ing lunatic."
As the officers tried to pull him away from the water, Brand lashed out and tried to strike them. He then grabbed PC Melia and pulled her down so that she ended up face down in the water.
The two police constables were left "very shaken" after the incident.
Defence counsel Gavin Anderson said Brand offered "an unreserved apology" to the officer.
He said, "This was an occasion of what might properly be described as drunken lunacy."
He said Brand had been drinking and did not plan to cause injury, but that he "wasn't for being lifted that day".
Mr Anderson said Brand's position was that he had no involvement in the matters that led police to turn up at the dam.
Chief Inspector Stephen Sneddon said, "This incident shows that a seemingly innocent call with apparently no risk can quickly turn into a dangerous situation. It further highlights that officers face risks every time they go out on duty - they do an excellent job in dangerous circumstances to protect the communities they serve."
This article appeared in Alloa & Hillfoots Advertiser 31 Oct 12
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