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‘I’d rather be punched or kicked’, declares custody officer after ‘vile’ spitting

David Woods was being held at the police investigation centre in Martlesham Heath  Picture: GREGG BROWN

David Woods was being held at the police investigation centre in Martlesham Heath Picture: GREGG BROWN

A profoundly deaf Ipswich man has been handed a community order for spitting in a detention officer’s face after spending 12 hours in custody.

David Woods was “frustrated” by difficulties communicating with the officer at Martlesham Heath police investigation centre, where he awaiting interview for a matter later discontinued with no further action.

Woods, 41, of Burns Road, appeared before magistrates on Monday to admit assaulting a policing support officer and breaching a conditional discharge handed down last February.

Prosecutor David Bryant said the assault happened on July 24, when the custody suite was extremely busy and officers were dealing with a medical emergency.

“The officer tried to go to his cell when he pressed the call buzzer, but could not always do so straight away,” added Mr Bryant.

“He attempted to make communication easier by giving him a pen and paper.”

The officer was on the phone when Woods later buzzed for attention in the exercise yard.

“When the officer went to the yard, Mr Woods was rather annoyed, waving his arms around and shouting,” said Mr Bryant.

“He asked to speak to a sergeant by writing ‘boss’ on paper. The officer said he would have to wait, and asked him to stand back so he could close the door. Mr Woods then spat directly into the officer’s face. It landed in his eyes, on his face and on his chest.”

In a statement, the officer said he had done everything possible to make Woods comfortable.

“I would prefer to be punched or kicked than spat at. It’s one of the most vile and degrading forms of abuse,” read the statement.

“I was unable to summon a superior on his command. I don’t think that’s justification for him to commit such a disgusting act.”

Mark Holt, mitigating, said Woods had been kept in custody for 12 hours and was frustrated by the time taken to answer his calls.

“His frustration was compounded by no further action taken over the matter for which he was arrested,” added Mr Holt.

“He very much regrets his behaviour and acknowledges how unpleasant it was.”

At the time, Woods was subject to a conditional discharge he received for assault last February.

He was handed an 18-month community order, with up to 40 rehabilitation activity requirement days, and told to pay £200 in compensation.

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