Police officer speaks of recovery

A POLICE officer who suffered serious injuries in an unprovoked assault in a custody suite has spoken of his determination not to let the incident ruin his career.

A POLICE officer who suffered serious injuries in an unprovoked assault in a custody suite has spoken of his determination not to let the incident ruin his career.

Pc Wayne Souza, 30, was attacked by a man he was checking into police cells in June this year, causing him a double fracture of the cheekbone, a broken nose and nerve damage.

Yesterday, Stephen Simpson, 24, was jailed for 18 months for the “out of the blue” attack, which happened after he was arrested at his home in Portman Walk, Ipswich.

Pc Souza, who lives and works in Ipswich, was forced to spend four months off work recovering and doctors have told him some of the nerve damage will still take two years to heal.

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Last night, he said he had contemplated leaving the force after the attack but said the help and support of his colleagues had convinced him to carry on.

“I have spoken to many officers who have been in service a lot longer than I have, and none of them can remember an incident like this one, especially as it was so out of the blue and in a custody suite,” said Pc Souza.

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“I contemplated whether to come back to the police service at all - I have got a wife and two sons who were very stressed about it and had reservations about me going back to work.

“But I had put a lot of time and hard work to get in to the police force and I couldn't let an incident like this ruin my career.

“It is always in the back of my mind and the nerve damage on the side of my face is always there, but I am now trying to get on with my job.

“I would like to thank the police service, from the top to the bottom, for their support which has helped me come back to work.”

Before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, Simpson pleaded guilty to a charge of causing grievous bodily harm to Pc Souza.

The court heard Pc Souza was one of the arresting officers who executed a warrant at Simpson's home on the afternoon of the attack.

The defendant, who was found hiding under a bed, was handcuffed and taken to Ipswich Police Station.

While being checked into the cells, Simpson appeared calm and relaxed.

But then, without provocation, he turned and punched Pc Souza with a left hook, causing the officer to fall to the ground in agony.

Peter Gair, prosecuting, said Simpson then adopted an “aggressive boxer's stance” as one officer directed CS spray towards him and two others sought to restrain him.

The court was told Simpson had a string of previous convictions, including an armed robbery at a bookmakers' in Clapham, London, in 2000 for which he was jailed for five years.

He also has convictions for assault and possession of a five inch kitchen knife.

Simon Spence, mitigating, said Simpson was suffering from a mental illness diagnosed as “emerging schizophrenia” and had no recollection of the attack.

Recorder Nicholas Hamblen, QC, sentenced the defendant to 18 months behind bars, with a further 18 months on license after his release.

He said: “It's clear this was a serious, unprovoked attack coming entirely out of the blue.”

The court heard Simpson is on a waiting list for a psychiatric clinic in Norfolk and will be treated for his condition.

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