Violent offender’s appeal against ‘excessive’ jail term dismissed by court

West Suffolk Hospital Picture: GREGG BROWN

West Suffolk Hospital Picture: GREGG BROWN

A Suffolk man has lost an appeal against the length of his 18-month prison sentence for offences characterised by ‘bullying and violence’.

Scott Abbott used foul and abusive language towards A&E staff at West Suffolk Hospital before spitting at a police officer, who he told: “I’ve got HIV and Hep C”, on July 21 last year.

Less than a week later, Abbott breached a non-molestation order by attending an ex-partner’s address and assaulting her father, before spitting in the face and on the arm of two other police officers when interviewed.

Abbott, 30, of no fixed address, admitted threatening behaviour, two counts of assault by beating, two counts of assaulting a police officer and breaching a non-molestation order at Ipswich Crown Court last August.

His guilty pleas were taken into account, along 43 previous convictions, when a judge passed down concurrent three-month terms for assaulting the officers and consecutive terms of six months for breaching the order, three months for assault and two three-month terms for his behaviour around the incident at the hospital.

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Abbott took his case to the Court of Appeal to argue that the starting points for the sentences were too high and that the overall term was manifestly excessive.

Three judges dismissed the appeal, made on grounds that events at the hospital constituted a low-level public order offence, which should have been met with a fine or community order.

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The court found that Abbott’s behaviour would have caused multiple individuals to fear “unpredictable violence” and that the sentence was entirely sustainable.

Justices said the sentences for spitting at the police officers were not manifestly excessive – and nor was the sentence for what they called a deliberate and planned breach of the non-molestation order, and the equally serious assault on his ex-partner’s father.

In summing up, they said: “We consider, furthermore, there is no merit in the submission that the total sentence was disproportionate, given the overall circumstances of this highly offensive behaviour.

“In three instances the appellant deliberately put the health of police officers at risk or, at the least, he sought to instil that fear. Otherwise this offending was characterised by bullying and violence.”

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