Soldier headbutted police officer after being caught drink driving

Ipswich Crown Court

Adam Ashton was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A soldier who headbutted a policeman and then sprayed him and another officer with Pava spray following his arrest for drink driving has avoided prison. 

Adam Ashton, 29, who is based at RAF Wattisham, near Needham Market, was stopped in Stowmarket around 12.20am on October 23 last year after driving his Ford Fiesta through a red light. 

Ashton, who is part of the Army Air Corps at the base, failed a roadside breath test and was told by two officers he was being arrested on suspicion of drink driving, Ipswich Crown Court heard. 

Stephen Page, prosecuting, told the court that as the officers attempted to handcuff Ashton, he headbutted one of them to the face twice - causing bleeding to the nose and a cut to the lip. 

During the melee that followed, Ashton grabbed a can of Pava spray - similar to pepper spray - which belonged to one of the officers, and proceeded to use it on both of them. 

The officers were forced to push their emergency buttons for assistance, Mr Page told the court. 

Both officers were taken to hospital following the incident, the court heard. 

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When interviewed by police, Ashton answered no comment to questions put to him. 

Ashton, who is originally from Plymouth, previously pleaded guilty to two charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, possessing a weapon for the discharge of a noxious liquid and drink driving. 

Declan Gallagher, mitigating, said Ashton was "well thought of", and the army wanted to keep him but an immediate custodial sentence would mean the end of his career. 

Mr Gallagher read a letter to the court from Ashton in which he said he was "deeply sorry" and "truly ashamed" of his actions. 

Recorder Jeremy Benson QC said "the court takes a very serious view" with regard to such offences but said he was prepared to suspend the sentence. 

Ashton was sentenced to a total of 12 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days. 

He was also ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work, and pay £400 in compensation to each officer. 

Ashton was also fined £400, banned from the road for 12 months, and ordered to pay £340 in court costs.