A man has been given a community order after pleading guilty to assaulting officers and staff, including biting and strangling one, while in custody in Melksham.

Ryan William Mills, aged 23, of Churchill Estate, Tisbury, appeared at Salisbury Magistrates Court today (20/03/19) charged with one count of causing actual bodily harm, two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and one count of criminal damage.

He was given a 12-month community order and ordered to pay a total of £375 compensation to the three people he assaulted, as well as court costs.

Mills was arrested in connection with a domestic incident at a house in Salisbury on 17 December 2018.

While he was in custody at Melksham Police Station he attacked officers and staff who were dealing with him.

The custody sergeant who was strangled and bitten during the assault described the incident as one of the very few times in his 31 years of service that he had felt "truly vulnerable".

In his statement, he said he had gone into the cell as Mills had been covering up the CCTV camera with his mattress, and when he entered the room, the defendant attacked him.

"As soon as I removed the mattress, Mills lunged violently forward and out of his cell into the corridor," he said. 

"He then violently grabbed hold of my shirt with both hands and with considerable force pulled and twisted it around my neck making it hard to breathe and causing my movement to be restricted.

"I tried to push Mills away by pushing Mills' head back. This had no effect as I was finding breathing and moving difficult. The detention officers had hold of Mills but Mills still tried to make a grab for me and attempted to punch me. He was shouting and screaming at me but I had no idea what he was saying. 

"We all fell to the floor and I heard my shirt rip. I can't remember the sequence of events but Mills bit me in my left arm causing intense pain and kicked me in the stomach causing me to become winded. I shouted "let go!"

"The pain in my arm was intense from the bite and I felt very vulnerable at this point as Mills still had hold of my shirt and I was still finding it hard to breathe."

Eventually the police officers and detention officers managed to get the situation under control and the custody sergeant crawled away and used his radio to call for assistance.

He added: "The outburst of violence from Mills was completely unexpected as I had spoken to him earlier in the evening to inform him that his time in custody was coming to an end. 

"I have over 31 years of service for Wiltshire Police and this incident is one of the very few where I have felt truly vulnerable."

The two detention officers who were assaulted suffered minor injuries.

The custody sergeant was given £250 compensation, while the two detention officers were given £75 and £50.

Inspector Mark Calland, who is the Wiltshire Police lead for custody, said: "My staff, police officers and police staff are people, and committed public servants - not punchbags. They do not go to work to be assaulted or threatened.

"We must never lose sight of the fact that police officers, and all those who do an extraordinary role in protecting us, are ordinary people, with ordinary lives. 

"We must never underestimate the impact that assaults can have not only on those who are assaulted but on their loved ones, and those around them."

 

Published at 1pm on Wednesday 20 March 2019.

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