Man bit custody officer’s arm during strip search

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple

North Devon Magistrates Court, Barnstaple - Credit: Archant

The 43-year-old admitted the assault after he ‘panicked’ when officers ‘brought him to the ground’ to remove his clothes.

A MAN who drew blood biting a prison warden’s arm when officers tried to strip search him in custody has pleaded guilty to assault.

Robert Johnson, 43, of Foxmoor Close, Uxbridge was arrested on January 16 in Bideford after police were told about a man acting strangely in the town.

He was arrested for being drunk and disorderedly but when officers handcuffed him and put him in the police van he began to swear and threaten them.

On arrival at Barnstaple Police Station, Johnson continued to be abusive and officers decided to take him straight to a cell.


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He was brought to the ground in a ‘controlled manner’, said prosecutor Lyndsey Baker, where officers tried to remove his clothes.

“He was not happy that his clothing was going to be removed,” she said.

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“He bit the right forearm of the custody officer, who was unable to pull away for fear of causing greater injury. The bite lasted around 10 seconds.”

The injury was described as being around an inch-and-a-half long and ‘oozing blood’.

Lawrence Overend, defending, said Johnson disputed that he was being drunk and disorderly in the first place and had previously had a bad experience with the police.

“He was being held and his jumper was cut off him,” said Mr Overend.

“He panicked and was frightened by the rather intimate nature of the search and admits he gave no rational thought to what he did.”

The court heard unemployed Johnson divided his time between him home in London and his parents’ house in Northam where he cared for his elderly mother.

Magistrates decided to impose a 12 month supervision order on Johnson, as well as ordering him to pay £200 in compensation to the victim and a £60 victim surcharge.

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