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Driver, 71, assaulted two police officers after snatching breathalyser

Edward Thornton was pulled over in Lakenheath  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Edward Thornton was pulled over in Lakenheath Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Archant

A 71-year-old Suffolk man could face custody for assaulting two police officers after snatching a breathalyser during a traffic stop.

Edward Thornton, of Woodlands, Lakenheath, faces sentencing in June for the two assaults and failing to provide a specimen for analysis.

He admitted the offences at an earlier hearing, in March, before reappearing at court in Ipswich on Tuesday, when magistrates ordered a pre-sentence report, including the option of custody.

Prosecutor Tess Mann said Thornton was pulled over for driving erratically in Lakenheath High Street on February 23.

“When asked, the defendant refused to give his name,” added Mrs Mann, who pointed out Thornton had previously been convicted of drink-driving in 2015.

“When the officer went to take the keys from the ignition, the defendant tried to stop him.

“Asked if he had consumed alcohol, the defendant said he had consumed two or three pints.

“The officer noted the smell of alcohol on his breath, and that his speech was slurred, and explained the consequences of failure to provide a specimen of breath.

“The defendant refused three or four requests to blow into the device, saying he needed more time, and that the officer was being 'too heavy' on him.

“He then made three attempts, but the volume of breath was insufficient, and he was arrested for failing to provide a specimen.”

Thornton repeatedly pulled his arm away from being handcuffed, and became aggressive enough for the officer to draw an incapacitant spray and call for assistance.

He then took the breathalyser into his own vehicle from on top of the police car and asked the officer: “Do you want to die tonight?”

Another attempt was made to handcuff Thornton when two other officers arrived at the scene, but he again pulled away and was taken to the ground, where he punched one officer in the chest and kicked another in the shin.

At Bury St Edmunds police investigation centre, he made another five failed attempts to give an evidential sample of breath.

Solicitor Joanna Paton said Thornton had sought help for alcohol misuse and mental health issues, which, she argued, would make unpaid work in the community an unsustainable punishment.

He was released on unconditional bail until his sentencing on June 10.

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