A HEROIN-USER attacked another customer outside a Stratford store – and then assaulted four police officers when he was arrested.
Warwick Crown Court heard that Karl Wheeler pulled one of the officers by her ponytail so hard she was screaming and crying in pain, only letting go when one of her colleagues sprayed him.
The 31-year-old then ‘weaponised his spit’ by spitting at the custody sergeant at the police station.
Wheeler, of Drayton Avenue, was jailed for a total of two years – receiving consecutive six-month terms for his assault on each of the four officers, which he had admitted.
But he was given no separate penalty for the earlier offences of assault and theft for which he was being arrested, to which he had also pleaded guilty.
Prosecutor Tim Sapwell said in February a man who had just bought wine at the Tesco Express store in Bridge Street in Stratford town centre was standing outside when Wheeler came out an approached him.
The man had been paying attention to Wheeler’s dog, which had been left outside, and there was an altercation between them.
Wheeler pushed him and grabbed his walking stick, threatening him with it and kicking him, then pulled his bag from him and threw it into the road, causing the bottles of wine in it to smash.
After the incident the man went back into the shop and bought another bottle of wine, but as he was paying for it, Wheeler came in and grabbed it and threw it on the floor.
Wheeler then went to the One Stop Shop in Rother Street where he stole a bottle of wine, peanut butter and crisps.
He was found nearby eating the crisps, and tried to run away when he saw the police, but was detained.
Wheeler reacted by grabbing one of the female officers by her ponytail, pulling it so hard that she was screaming and crying out in pain.
Wheeler only released his grip when her colleagues sprayed him in the face with incapacitant spray, after which he flailed out, hitting another of them to the head.
Then as he was being put into a police van he kicked a police sergeant to her thigh.
Even at the police station he had not calmed down, and as he was being booked in, he spat at the custody sergeant, telling him: “I hope you get hepatitis C.”
Fortunately it landed on his stab vest, but he commented that Wheeler was ‘weaponising his bodily fluids,’ adding: “During the pandemic this is even more unacceptable.”
Mr Sapwell added Wheeler had previous convictions for offences including theft, battery, wounding and threatening behaviour.
David Everett, defending, pointed out when Wheeler was younger he had been involved in unpleasant offending, but there had been some change, and he had kept out of trouble for ‘three years or so.’
Mr Everett added Wheeler, who wanted to do something about his heroin use, would return to Stratford after serving his sentence, and intended to apologise to the officers.
Jailing Wheeler, Judge Barry Berlin told him: “It was an extremely unpleasant matter for each of the officers, and some of them were in tears.
“At the police station you weaponised your spit. You spat at him and said ‘I hope you get hepatitis C.’ This was, on anybody’s account, an utterly despicable act.
“These matters are way too serious for anything other than an immediate sentence.”