Home Secretary challenged on 'not acceptable' sentence for man who attacked police officer

PC Leo Clarke

PC Leo Clarke on the day he became a police officer in February 2020. Centre: The injuries he received. Right: Recovering from surgery. The 20 month sentence on his attacker has been challenged. - Credit: Cambs Police

Police officers are demanding Home Secretary Priti Patel intervenes in the “not acceptable” 20-month jail sentence handed to a man who left a Cambridgeshire colleague with life changing injuries.  

John Apter, chair of the English and Welsh Police Federation, said: “He suffered life changing injuries when he was attacked on duty.  

“His attacker got just 20 months in prison! This is not acceptable and it can’t go on.” 

PC Leo Clarke

PC Leo Clarke post surgery showing the extent of his stitches. He is still recovering from the attack - the sentence on the man who injured him is being challenged. - Credit: Cambs Police

Liz Groom, chair of the Cambs Police Federation, said: “I am saddened and stunned by this sentence.” 

Liz Groom

Liz Groom, chair of the Cambs Police Federation, said: “I am saddened and stunned by this sentence.” - Credit: Twitter

PC Leo Clarke, 24, and a police officer for just over a year, was seriously injured trying to stop Joshua Gull’s violent behaviour. 


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Gull punched him in the head and when PC Clarke returned to the police station he was seen to be squinting and started to slur his words. 

He was taken to Peterborough City Hospital where it was found he had a bleed on the brain. 

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PC Clarke underwent surgery and remained in hospital for five days before returning home where he continues to recover. 

Gull, of Herne Road, Oundle, admitted causing grievous bodily harm without intent and was sentenced to one year and eight months at Peterborough Crown Court on Thursday. 

PC Clarke told the court: “This incident has left me feeling like a burden on everyone.  

“I used to love driving but it’s hard now as I have to be driven everywhere in relation to things such as appointments or even to go to the shop.  

“I feel like a prisoner as such in my own house because the recovery is so slow and I would really like to go out with my family but I can't due to the injury.” 

He added: “I used to love going out with friends, drinking, going to work and socialising but I can't do any of that now. 

“That is really hard for me, just sitting at home and doing nothing.  

PC Leo Clarke

Post surgery: The Cambs police officer Leo Clarke - Credit: Cambs Police

“I was a really active person and for that now to be taken away, with the possibility that some of these injuries might never go away, makes me feel quite upset.” 

Liz Groom, chair of the Cambs Police Federation, said: “I am saddened and stunned by this sentence.”  

Leo quite simply could have died had his colleagues missed his sudden & rapid deterioration on his return to the station due to a bleed on the brain caused by being assaulted. 

Ms Groom said that Leo was “very grateful for the love and support” he had received.  

She posted to Twitter a photo of him in uniform adding that “this is how he should look”.  

She added a second photo of him on his return home after surgery. 

“He is very much still recovering and suffering effects but staying positive,” she added. 

PC Leo Clarke

Passing out ceremony held at force HQ on February 3, 2020, and heralding a new tradition for the force, nine retired officers attended and ceremonially handed over their old collar numbers to nine of the new recruits. Tim Stonebridge and Leo Clarke. - Credit: Cambs Police

“Leo quite simply could have died had his colleagues missed his sudden and rapid deterioration on his return to the station due to a bleed on the brain caused by being assaulted.” 

Mr Apter said he had received many messages of support for PC Clarke.  

He said he has asked to meet the Home Secretary and said he hoped to do so in the coming weeks. 

“My colleagues keep getting let down by the Criminal Justice System,” he said. 

“The system needs an overhaul.  

“My colleagues put their lives on the line every day, the least they can expect in return is the support of the courts when they are the victims of such vicious and wicked assaults.” 

He said that on behalf of 130,000 officers he represents he was asking the Home Secretary to review the present system of sentencing.  

"We can’t go on like this, my colleagues deserve so much more,” he added. 

Gull, 27, was reported to police at about 4.45pm on February 8 after he became violent towards members of his family in Ledbury Road, Peterborough. 

Gull had missed a psychiatric appointment at Peterborough City Hospital that morning and walked to the address prior to speaking with a doctor. 

Challenged by PC Clarke, Gull, 24, became agitated and reacted angrily when the officer activated his body worn video camera. 

Gull grabbed PC Clarke, who used PAVA spray but to no avail as Gull adopted a fighting stance punch the officer to the head.  

PC Clarke used his baton to stop Gull, who was arrested soon afterwards as he retreated inside the house. 

Joshua Gull

Joshua Gull, of Herne Road, Oundle, admitted causing grievous bodily harm without intent and was sentenced to one year and eight months at Peterborough Crown Court. - Credit: Cambs Police

While in custody, Gull told officers he regretted what he had done and had been suffering with his mental health. 

DC Mat Belfitt, who investigated, said: "This was a violent attack against a new-in-service police officer who was simply doing his job in responding to reports of concern for this man. 

"On average, there are 42 assaults on officers in Cambridgeshire every month and this incident sadly highlights the dangers officers face on a daily basis. 

“Being subjected to such abuse will not be tolerated and we will continue to take strong action." 

Priti Patel

Ironically Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, visited Peterborough the day after the man who attacked PC Clarke was sentenced. It was a visit though where the press were not invited, having been told her visit was cancelled. She was accompanied by Conservative political candidates. - Credit: Via Twitter




Chief Constable Nick Dean said: “Police officers and staff are regularly subjected to violence and threats which too often result in injury.  

“It is never acceptable to assume that assaults upon police officers and staff should be tolerated, it is not simply ‘part of the job’.  

“While it is clear that the nature of policing requires members of the organisation to handle difficult and hostile situations, assaults upon them are serious and unacceptable. 

Mr Dean said: “The public call upon the police to help them when they are most in need.  

“We have a duty to protect the public, but we are all too often prevented from doing so due to violent individuals who choose to attack those who are there to help them. 

“Most importantly it should be remembered that police officers and staff are people, they are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.  

“When they are attacked, they become victims just like any other, but victims who have been attacked while trying to protect others.” 

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