A FEMALE police constable has been hailed for her courage after she was the victim of an attack by a thug.

PC Stacy Beale, from Hampshire Constabulary’s dog unit, was attacked after she went to the home of 51-year-old Stubby St George, in Foxdown, Overton.

North Hampshire Magistrates’ Court heard how she had been called there after reports were received of dogs roaming around the home.

The attack, on April 13 this year, saw PC Beale have her thumb bent back during a 15-minute wrestling ordeal with St George.

Prosecutor Ghislaine Watson-Hopkinson said her injury meant PC Beale was unable to work for 72 days. St George was charged with assaulting a police officer. He initially denied the offence, but changed his plea to guilty just before a scheduled trial.

John Reynolds, defending, said St George was a former landscape gardener who had suffered depression, and had been treated for suicidal thoughts following the death of his wife of 10 years in 2008. He had since changed his name by deed poll, but at the time of the assault was known as Graham Stubbington.

Mr Reynolds added: “He knows the officer was doing her duty, and he knows he behaved very brutally.” He claimed St George had not intended to cause injury. He said: “He accepts that this was a shocking incident and accepts his guilt for it.”

Addressing the judge, St George apologised to PC Beale. He said: “I would like to apologise to the officer for the pain that I caused her. I have realised the seriousness of the offence. I was just a confused and a mixed-up head.”

Sentencing St George to 24 weeks in prison, District Judge Philip Gillibrand said St George attacked PC Beale in an “uncontrolled and unthinking episode of violence” and had failed to show sufficient remorse.

He said: “There was an element in your behaviour of ridiculing her, and taking advantage of your strength over her. “The thing about remorse is it has to come at the right time. If it comes on the day of the trial, months down the line, then what of remorse?”

“I have to say I thought the officer was incredibly brave. I think her bravery was staggering. She was mindful of her own dog and the public. She put their welfare above her own. Her bravery that day does need to be publicly recognised.”

Following the sentencing, PC Beale said: “Police officers face all sorts of situations in the course of their duties. One of our policing priorities is to protect the public from harm. However, we should never be subjected to this level of violence.”