Holidaymaker jailed for biting policeman in Combe Martin caravan park affray

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A holidaymaker has been jailed after he bit police during a violent struggle inside a caravan.

Gareth Warne had to be pepper-sprayed and tasered after police thought he was trying to arm himself with a knife at a holiday park in North Devon.

He and his older brother Michael were on holiday from Halifax and police were called to the Stowford Farm Meadows site at Combe Martin because he attacked his girlfriend in the bar.

Police went to the caravan where Gareth Warne was in a drunken stupor on the floor and Michael was barely conscious on a sofa-bed.

There was confusion as the older brother pretended that the other man was Michael rather than Gareth, and the violence started when officers succeeded in waking him

There was a scuffle inside the caravan, where a ten-year-old boy was also sleeping, and police deployed Pava spray and tasers before getting both brothers out of the door.

Footage from the police body-worn cameras showed a violent scuffle in which Gareth Warne bit one of the police officers while his brother left two security men from the site with injuries to their arms and legs.

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Pc Jack Martindale can he heard shouting ‘the f***ing pr*ck’s bitten me on the arm’. Screams and groans can be heard from both brothers as they were overpowered and handcuffed.

Gareth Warne, aged 32, of Highroad, Well Lane; and Michael Warne, aged 37, of Backhold Drive, both Halifax, both admitted affray.

Gareth was jailed for 18 months by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court. Michael was jailed for eight months, suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 160 hours unpaid community work and pay £1,200 compensation and costs.

The judge told Gareth: “You were clearly heavily under the influence of drink and in a stupor. The matter escalated and there was significant violence.

“The police had to use Pava spray and there was a sustained struggle before you were restrained and in that time a number of people were injured, including the officer whose bicep you bit.”

Miss Rachel Drake, prosecuting, said the incident on August 20 last year started with Gareth Warne getting into a violent argument with his partner in the bar.

An off-duty policeman who was also staying at the site intervened and security were called. They contacted the police who arrived at around 11.30 am to see Gareth Warne.

They managed to rouse his brother but when Gareth awoke, he became extremely violent. Police thought he was going back into the caravan to fetch a knife and deployed spray and two tasers.

Both brothers were taken to the ground outside the caravan and Gareth Warne bit PC Martindale. Another officer was hit on the forehead and two security officers suffered knee or elbow injuries.

Mr Michael Brown, for Michael Warne, said he was less involved than his brother and has fewer convictions for violence.

Mr Simeon Evans, for Gareth Warne, said he was half blinded and stumbling around after being sprayed but had never picked up a knife.

He said he wants to apologise to the police, security men and other tourists at the caravan park. He is addressing issues including his abuse of alcohol and mental health while in prison.

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