‘Super-human’ Nelson man attacks police in Colne fracas

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A DAD-of-four with “super-human strength” grabbed a police officer’s parva spray off him and turned it on him as the officer struggled to arrest him, a court was told.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Steven Tonkinson had hit the officer twice and had been abusive in the early afternoon melee. Tonkinson had then run off and, as the victim was trying to catch him, a female colleague came to his aid. The defendant then tussled with her, leaving her injured.

Tonkinson, said to have taken drink and “bubble” before the trouble, admitted making use of a firearm with intent and two counts of police assault, last November 5th. The defendant (28), of Whitehough Place, Nelson, was sent to prison for four months.

Miss Lisa Worsley (prosecuting) said police in Colne saw the defendant apparently chasing a man named Alan Woods.

The defendant then reappeared out of a back street and was asked why he had been pursuing Mr Woods. An officer believed Tonkinson was carrying a prohibited article and told him he was being detained, but the defendant ran off towards Burnley Road.

The officer shouted: “Police, stop now,” but Tonkinson ignored him and carried on running. The officer pursued him and the defendant turned to face him, looking aggressive and gritting his teeth, and took a swing at him. He then hit the officer again and, when told he was under arrest for police assault, swore and lunged at the officer.

Miss Worsley said the officer parva sprayed the defendant, it failed to have the desired effect and Tonkinson tried to grab the canister. The victim held on to the spray with all his might. The prosecutor continued: “He felt the defendant had super-human strength, as he managed to pull it away, press the button and discharge it into the officer’s face.”

Tonkinson then ran into a busy road, chased by police. The defendant lifted himself up onto a five feet stone wall, the officer continued to struggle with him and was kicked in the groin.

Miss Worsley said a female officer arrived, Tonkinson started kicking out at her and he was hit in the face. The defendant slammed her colleague on the floor, the female officer thought he was going to charge at him and she parva sprayed the defendant. He knocked the canister out of her hand and she kicked it out of the way. The other officer was rolling on the ground trying to restrain the defendant, who was kicking and punching out and a member of the public finally helped officers detain him. The officer went to hospital for treatment to injuries and his female colleague suffered bruising to her legs.

Mr Martin Hackett, for Tonkinson, said he was facing his first custodial sentence. The defendant, a family man, had taken alcohol and mephedrone. He was remorseful. Tonkinson had not had a weapon on him when he was arrested.

The barrister continued: “He presents to me as somebody who has reflected upon his disgraceful behaviour. Given his family position, he shouldn’t have been out, shouldn’t have taken drink to excess and shouldn’t have taken drugs.”

Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson told the defendant: “This was a situation which really escalated out of nothing. The police, of course, have to be protected in the execution of their duty.”