A MAN has been spared prison for assaulting a police officer after the judge took into account “exceptional personal mitigation”.

Matthew Curtis, 47, of Farnborough Road, Farnborough, pleaded “guilty of self-defence” to assaulting Sergeant David Bennett whilst in custody in Basingstoke on March 22.

The court heard how the man, whose doctor said he was severely depressed and “extremely vulnerable”, walked out of his cell to ask why he was taken into custody, when Sgt. Bennett pushed him back into the cell.

He accepted that it had been a hard push.

In mitigation, Ms Taylor said that the jolt Curtis received had aggravated a brain injury which he suffered in a hammer attack that “ruined his life”.

Basingstoke Magistrates Court heard on Thursday morning that he “instinctively” swung at the officer.

Prosecuting, Ms Edwards said that Curtis struck the back of Sgt. Bennet’s head, and that there were scratches on the back of his neck.

Ms Taylor said that Curtis had “no recollection of the matter”.

Curtis, who appeared in the dock wearing a red top and tracksuit bottoms, had been in a long running dispute with neighbours.

“It saw him stand trial at Winchester Crown Court, he was acquitted in less than five minutes.

“However they made a second allegation and he was remanded into custody for five months for a case that had no evidence.

“He spent five months in custody for a matter he was innocent of.

“He lost his accommodation and became homeless.”

District Judge Pattinson said that he wouldn’t look at issuing a community order that he otherwise would have, whilst the Legal Advisor commented: “The gentleman is doing what he’s being asked to.”

Summing up, District Judge Pattinson said that he would have been considering a custodial sentence, continuing: “Can I make clear that for assaults on emergency workers that the maximum prison sentence is 11 months and is treated very seriously by courts.

“However, I give you credit for your guilty plea and I do take account for what is exceptional personal mitigation.

“I do have regard for your own personal circumstances.”

Ordering Curtis to pay a £60 fine and £100 compensation, but waving the victim surcharge and costs, District Judge Pattinson said: “Sgt. Bennett does not go to work expecting to be hit.”

However, Curtis, who had otherwise looked at the floor throughout the hearing, interrupted the judge, saying: “I am still suffering from the jolt from the officer and the jolt from six other officers beating me with their truncheons.”

District Judge Pattinson responded: “I have taken very close note of your personal circumstances.

“I’ve dealt with you as leniently as I can.”

Curtis will also have to continue payment of £265 from another case.