West Midlands Ambulance Service is so disappointed in the sentence handed down to a man convicted of assaulting two staff, that the Trust has written to the Attorney General asking for it to be reviewed.
It comes after one paramedic had her wrist broken and another suffered cuts and bruising to his lower legs after being kicked by the defendant, who was wearing steel toe capped footwear, while they tried to help him.
The unusual step of making the appeal was taken after Adam George James was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court to a 14-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years; he was also ordered to carry out 150 hours community service and pay a victim surcharge to the courts of £140. He was charged with Actual Bodily Harm and Common Assault.
On 12th July 2016, James assaulted the ambulance crew that came to help him after he was found unconscious in a public place in Birmingham city centre.
The ambulance staff arrived on scene and started pre-hospital clinical support prior to transportation to hospital. During the clinical assessment, the defendant regained consciousness and started to use foul language towards the crew. Despite this, they continued and persuaded him to have an ECG check and intravenous access be obtained for the administration of drugs if required.
With no warning, James struck both clinicians with his feet resulting in both crew members needing hospital treatment and were booked off sick from operational duties for 6 weeks to 2 weeks respectively.
Paramedic Amy Holtom, who suffered the broken wrist said:
“I think this is appalling and shows how little the courts think of us. Anyone else would have been looking at time in jail, but yet again ambulance staff have been let down by the legal system.”
WMAS Trust Chief Executive Anthony Marsh, who requested the appeal, added:
“The sentence is extremely lenient given the traumatic injuries sustained and emotional upset experienced; I find it hugely frustrating that so many of my staff have been let down by the sentences given.
There is no question in my mind that this warranted a custodial sentence. As well as the pain, suffering and emotional scarring of these staff, the public lost the services of two highly trained ambulance clinicians for a total of eight weeks. Those shifts had to be covered which meant overtime and additional cost to the NHS at a time when budgets are already stretched.
The legal system is there to protect emergency workers who risk their lives for others and it is their expectation that the courts will ensure the full force of the law is applied in such cases.”
The Trust’s Head of Security, Steve Elliker, said:
“Whilst we welcome the new Private Members Bill to provide emergency workers with enhanced protection, the Ministry of Justice has made it quite clear that there is no reason why the courts cannot hand down custodial sentences based on current legislation.
It is never appropriate for staff to be abused verbally or physically. It is almost unbelievable that even this level of violence did not result in a custodial sentence. It is time that the Courts handed down sentences that act as a deterrent against future assaults.”