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Paramedics ‘living in fear’ after attack where man 'snarled like a dog'

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TWO paramedics now live in fear after being victims of an attack by a drunk 61-year-old man who was described as ‘snarling like a dog’.

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Statements from the male and female officers were read to the Magistrate’s Court to explain how their lives had changed as a result of what happened outside a block of flats in Grouville in September last year.

The pair came under attack by the male partner of a man with a head injury who they were trying to help. Andrew Berry twice punched the male paramedic on his shoulders and also struck him with a walking stick. Berry grabbed the woman by the neck and pushed her against a wall. The court heard from Centenier Nick Andrews that during much of the attack, the male paramedic was trying to protect his female colleague.

The court heard that the incident began when a taxi driver called the Ambulance Service at about 10.30 pm on Thursday 13 September to report that a man had fallen over in the car park of a block of flats in Route des Sablons, Grouville.

When the paramedics arrived, they saw a man they recognised lying on his back with Berry beside him in an ‘agitated state’.

The other man had fallen and had hit his head while drunk. The paramedics suggested he go to hospital but the injured man did not want to.

Meanwhile, Berry was aggressive and shouting insults, especially to the female paramedic. The court heard the woman was so concerned she used her radio to seek police back-up.

The Centenier said that Berry started coming at the male paramedic and was being aggressive. The paramedic put his hand out to keep him away.

‘The defendant was like a snarling dog and was biting his teeth down towards the paramedic’s fingers. As a result, the paramedic pulled his hand away,’ said the Centenier.

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The assault took place when Berry then punched the paramedic hard on the left shoulder and threw a second punch toward him, connecting with his right shoulder. He was then verbally aggressive toward the woman, so the male officer went to protect her.

Berry ‘picked up a wooden walking stick, raised it up into the air and struck the male paramedic on the right shoulder’. The paramedic responded by saying, ‘Don’t! Stop that! Don’t hit me again’, which prompted Berry to respond: ‘What are you going to do if I do?’

The court was told that Berry then directed abuse toward the woman. The Centenier said he grabbed her left arm and used his other arm to grab her by the neck up against a wall.

The male paramedic got involved and told Berry to back off and leave her alone. The police then arrived and intervened.

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Both Berry and the other man, who had fallen over for a second time and hurt his head during the incident, were taken to hospital and received treatment.

When questioned by the police, the defendant said that he did not remember anything and was very upset with himself, especially for assaulting a woman and a paramedic

He told officers: ‘All I remember was flashing lights. I don’t remember the taxi driver.’

He said that he was truly sorry for what he had done and was receiving counselling from the Salvation Army because of his alcohol issues.

The victim impact statements written by the paramedics were read out in court. The attack had affected the female officer in both her role as a paramedic and in her life away from work.

Centenier Andrews said that she was now scared in situations around drunk males, and found herself wondering what would have happened that night if her male colleague had not been there to protect her and an all-female crew had been sent instead.

Meanwhile, the court heard the male officer felt that had the attack come from some ‘younger drunken idiot in town’, it might have made more sense.

‘I did not expect it from someone of his age and standing and I am now more mindful and careful when I attend incidents,’ he said in the statement.

‘I do not expect to be assaulted when I am there to help people.’

Berry, of Route des Sablons, Grouville, avoided a prison sentence and was instead ordered to undertake 150 hours of community service work, which Relief Magistrate David Le Cornu said was the equivalent of eight months in custody.

The defendant, who was also ordered to complete a 12-month probation order, had previously pleaded guilty to committing a grave and criminal assault and being drunk and disorderly.

In sentencing, Mr Le Cornu said: ‘Paramedics should be able to carry out their duties without fear of coming under attack.’

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