Federation condemns ‘lenient sentence’ for man who seriously assaulted Sussex Police officer

Sussex Police Federation has condemned the “lenient sentence” given to a man who seriously assaulted a police officer – leaving him with severe injuries including a broken eye socket and broken nose.

May 4, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Sergeant Alec Barrett

Sergeant Alec Barrett was attempting to protect members of the public by stopping a fight in Brighton last month when a man approached him from behind, taking a running punch at his face, punching him in the face again several times seriously injuring him.

The Sussex Police officer was taken to hospital, where he was told he had concussion, a broken eye socket, leading to bleeding in his sinuses, a broken nose and damage to his cheek.

This week, Jonathan Beauchamp was given a year’s custodial sentence suspended for two years. He was also put on a five-month curfew and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £2,000 in compensation.

Sergeant Raffaele Cioffi, deputy secretary of Sussex Police Federation, said: “This is a lenient sentence for a violent criminal whose cowardly attack on a defenceless police officer left him with serious injuries. Let’s not forget that Sgt Barrett was trying to protect members of the public and was violently attacked for doing so, he was lucky not to have been blinded.

“The Federation continues to call on the courts to do their bit and protect the protectors, custodial sentences are the strongest deterrent to stop these kinds of attacks – anything less does not protect us.

“Sadly, yet again, we see the courts going soft on violent crime; it’s an outrageous decision by the court and I fear officers will continue to be seriously injured until they take it seriously.”

Following the attack, Sgt Barrett said: “I was in a vulnerable position on the ground when the man sucker-punched me from a position that I didn’t see coming. When I regained full consciousness, I looked up to try to work out what had happened as I knew I was defenceless, he then punched me again a few more times in the face whilst standing over me.

“My face is horrendously swollen, initially located around my eye, but now it’s around my cheek and one side of my face. I’ve been assaulted before, but I now find myself apprehensive about going back to work, especially operational duty, where I might be in the same position again, it’s affected me and my family who now worry about me going to work.”

He added: “It’s been a reality check about the dangers of my job. I’ve had calls from people in the force with good wishes and the Federation have supported me, lots of people have been in touch, which is a really nice gesture, and it is really appreciated.”

There were 41,221 assaults on police officers in England and Wales last year – an annual national rise of more than 20 per cent. This equates to 793 assaults a week on police officers, or 113 assaults every day and more than four every hour.

Last year, 1,322 officers in Sussex were assaulted last year – that is more than 25 every single week or more than three a day, the Federation said.

Sgt Cioffi added: “The Government needs to take a strong stance against violent crime, we need to see action in the courts, not words. Until they do, violent criminals will continue to walk free as in this case, no real justice for victims.

“The Federation will continue to lobby the Government for a change in the sentencing guidelines for violent crime. I fear officers and members of the public will not be safe until this changes.”

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