A man has been jailed after he viciously bit down on an officer’s finger causing serious injury in a bid to avoid being arrested.
Liam Byron, 23 of no fixed address, was sentenced to two years and 28 days’ imprisonment at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday, 30 April.
He pleaded guilty at the same court at an earlier hearing to escape from lawful custody and causing grievous bodily harm with the intent to resist arrest.
On Sunday, 2 February PC James Robinson was on a routine patrol alongside a special constable when they noticed Byron drop a bag and get onto a waiting train at Bexleyheath Station.
The officers searched the bag and inside they found several handbags which they suspected to be stolen from a store in Bexleyheath. Enquiries with the store confirmed they had been stolen earlier that day.
The officers continued their investigation to find Byron, which included enquiries on the rail network. While on a train PC Robinson spotted Byron boarding a train from Welling Station in company of another male.
PC Robinson circulated the information to Met and British Transport Police officers using his radio.
When the train pulled into Eltham Station, PC Robinson believed that Byron had left the train and jumped a fence. He entered the carriage where Byron had been to see if anything had been left behind.
As PC Robinson entered the carriage, he found Byron sat with the other male. PC Robinson engaged with Byron and arrested him on suspicion of theft. During the process of securing the handcuffs, Byron attempted to resist arrest, saying ‘not today mate.’ He managed to free one hand and waved the handcuffs around as a weapon, hitting PC Robinson in the head.
A struggle then ensued between PC Robinson and Byron. During PC Robinson’s efforts to restrain Byron, he bit down on the officer’s finger in a sustained attack.
In a statement read to the court, PC Robinson said: “I felt Byron increasing the pressure on my finger with his teeth, and I believe that he was fully intending to sever it.”
However, despite the serious injuries to his finger, PC Robinson continued to restrain Byron who was still biting down on his finger. When the train stopped at Kidbrooke Station, Byron released PC Robinson’s finger and he and the other male fled the train.
PC Robinson chased after them but they managed to escape.
Two days later on Tuesday, 4 February, officers from Emergency Response Team D at Bexleyheath carried out local enquiries and found Byron sleeping rough in Welling Town Centre. Upon his arrest, he was smirking and giggling.
When he was booked into custody at a south London police station, he turned to the arresting officer and said: “You know I can kick off if I want to you ask James Robinson about it.”
Detectives from the South East Basic Command Unit’s CID led the investigation. They tried to interview Byron several times, but he refused to be interviewed by officers.
He was subsequently charged with theft, escaping from lawful custody and grievous bodily harm (wounding with intent to resist arrest). He was convicted and sentenced as above.
PC Robinson suffered from several puncture wounds to his finger, which has caused permanent scarring and temporary nerve damage. However, despite the injuries he suffered, PC Robinson was back at work in a restricted capacity the very next day and has since made a full recovery.
PC Robinson, who is attached to Welling Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said:
“I’d like to thank the detectives from SE CID for building a strong case against Byron which left him with no choice but to plead guilty and resulted in him getting a custodial sentence.
“I appreciate that as a police officer I sometimes have to put myself in harm’s way, however I did not go to work that day expecting someone to try and bite my finger off in such a vicious attack.
“In the six and a half years I have been a police officer, I have never been victim to such a serious assault. The physical scars and nerve damage are one thing, but what is even worse is the uncertainty of whether I have contracted anything from the bite. Fortunately I don’t think I have, but I’ll not know for sure until August when my tests have concluded.
“I am happy with the sentence Byron has been given, and I feel this sends a clear message that violence against police officers will not be tolerated.”