Man butted and bit policemen

PUBLISHED: 15:03 07 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:34 10 June 2010

A MAN has been found guilty of headbutting an Exmouth police officer and biting another from the town in a moving police car after being arrested.

A MAN has been found guilty of headbutting an Exmouth police officer and biting another from the town in a moving police car after being arrested.

Andrew Howitt, of Lawn Vista, Sidmouth, denied two charges of assaulting a police officer, but was found guilty by magistrates.

The court heard how the 23-year-old became abusive and violent towards officers as he was placed in handcuffs following his arrest for a separate incident at Nelson Drive, Sidmouth.

Magistrates heard how he headbutted PC Gareth Bunston as the officer drove towards the police station, causing him to serve into oncoming traffic.

The court heard how PC Ian Schofield, who was sitting in the back of the car with Howitt, punched him several times to subdue him as he feared for his and his colleague's lives.

Giving evidence at the trial, PC Schofield said: "Mr Howitt seemed to be fidgeting in the car and said the handcuffs were uncomfortable.

"Then, without any warning, he launched himself forward between the two front seats to headbutt PC Bunston. I could feel the vehicle lurch sharply.

"I pulled him back and punched him.

"It didn't have any real effect, so I struck him again. Mr Howitt was trying to headbutt and kick out at us. I punched him about seven or eight times."

He added: "He had been arrested for a serious and violent offence and I believed he was trying to kill or seriously injure myself or PC Bunston."

PC Schofield told the court Howitt bit him on the finger during the scuffle. The officer has since had to undergo blood tests for HIV and hepatitis B.

PC Bunston said: "One minute Mr Howitt was mildly protesting his innocence and the next he was swearing or abusing us personally.

"I was aware of a sharp impact to the left side of my head. I felt the impact and it caused me to swerve the vehicle into the oncoming lane. I felt pain, but my first concern was that I was steering into the oncoming lane and I was crashing the car."

The court heard that, at the police station, Howitt was placed in a secure holding cell as he continued to be aggressive and abusive.

Howitt told the court that he was "very drunk" but denied deliberately headbutting or biting the officers during the incident on January 1 this year.

He told magistrates that he moved around in the car as PC Schofield had pinched him.

He said: "He didn't like me calling him names. I just wanted to get him off me because it hurt. It is possible I may have made contact with the officer in front."

Howitt accused PC Schofield of then beating him up in the car.

The case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports until Friday, August 18. Howitt was released on unconditional bail.

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