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Glasgow Live
Glasgow Live
Keiran Fleming

Lanarkshire police officer beaten unconscious says he's 'lucky to be alive'

A police officer believes he is 'lucky to be alive' after he was beaten unconscious by a thug in Wishaw.

Josh Smith, 20, attacked the cop in April 2021 and was spared a prison sentence. He was handed a six-month electronic tagging order with an 8am to 7pm curfew, as well as an 18-month community payback order at Hamilton Sheriff Court last week.

The officer, who wishes to remain anonymous, has now shared his ordeal and believes his assailant did not receive 'proper punishment' for his actions, which forced him to take time off work, reports the 1919 Magazine.

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He said: “During the height of covid, people were getting custodial sentences for coughing at police officers, and I’ve had somebody who, to put it bluntly, was close enough to killing me and all he’s got is to stay at home.

“Where is the justice in it? Police officers go out every day and risk their lives, because that’s what we do; we don’t know what we’re going into.”

The policeman was attending reports of a man with a knife on Gala Crescent with his colleague. When they arrived Smith was in the garden with a woman.

"We got out the car and told him to put his hands up and keep them where we could see them,” the PC said.

“He complied with that and as we took a couple of steps closer to him, he just jumped towards me. The only thing I could do was grab hold of him. I fell onto the ground; he ended up on top of me.

“And then he just started punching and kicking me. I remember trying to keep a hold of him but push him off me, and then I remember hearing my colleague screaming and hearing the radio call for help going out.

“Then I remember feeling heavy, heavy blows to my head which was him either kicking or jumping on my head. I think that’s the point where I lost consciousness.”

Other officers were also on their way to the address once they heard that the man had a knife.

The officer said: “Luckily for myself, the next car was literally 10 seconds behind us because I think if it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t be here to tell the story.

“I didn’t think he was going to stop. He told me he was going to kill me, and he made a good go at it.”

An allegation that Smith's attack threatened the life of the PC was later deleted, however, the policeman struggles to accept that.

He said: “That’s the thing that’s sticking in my throat because they’ve taken out the part of endangerment to life.

“The thing I can’t understand is that it was the Crown who decided there was an endangerment to life in the first place – they obviously thought they had enough to prosecute with that – so why delete that part of the charge?

“They’ve dropped that to a much lesser charge. How can you say kicking someone on the head is not endangering their life?”

Defence agent Matthew McGovern acknowledged the serious nature of the charges, but pointed out that a criminal justice social work report on his client was positive.

Sheriff Liam Murphy told Smith that, having considered the report, he was prepared to impose an alternative to a prison sentence.

The victim said: “He hasn’t even had proper punishment for this.

“I think it sends a message to people that they can do whatever they want, especially to the police. The thing is, people should respect the police but the police don’t have any respect from the public anymore.”

In 2020/21 there were over 7,000 recorded assaults on police in Scotland, including officers and staff being punched kicked and bitten while carrying out their duties.

While this was a decrease of 251 incidents compared to the previous year, it was 8.6 per cent higher than the five-year average.

David Hamilton, Chair of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “Police officers are sick and tired of being betrayed by a justice system that pledges to take violence against police officers seriously, and then sees watered down charges leading to unduly lenient sentences.

“Is it unreasonable to expect that society should protect those who protect society?”

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said “Assaults on police officers and staff are reprehensible and Scotland's prosecution service will take action to protect their safety.

“COPFS works closely with Police Scotland to ensure the effective investigation and prosecution of crime, properly addressing any criminal behaviour that threatens public safety and the safety of police officers.”

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