08:00 Wednesday 02 May 2012

Security officer rammed by mobility scooter cheat

Written byPETER RICHARDSON

A BENEFITS cheat involved in swindling thousands of pounds drove his mobility scooter into a security officer after being told he could not kiss his wife goodbye as he was jailed.

Philip McKenna
Philip McKenna

Philip McKenna wanted to comfort his partner, Irene, who was upset after he was sentenced to 13 weeks in prison.

Before being taken to the cells, he asked the dock officer: “Can I kiss my wife goodbye?” But the officer refused, so McKenna rammed him twice with his scooter.

On the second occasion the scooter hit the officer with such force it fractured his ankle and other people had to help lift it off him.

McKenna, of Limestone Close, Hartshorne, admitted causing actual bodily harm.

At the time of the offence, in December 2010, he was being sentenced by Southern Derbyshire magistrates for benefit fraud.

He served his 13-week sentence and then proceedings were started against him for the attack on the court officer.

Appearing for the offence at Derby Crown Court, the 58-year-old, now walking with the aid of crutches, collapsed in the dock after being sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years.

Judge John Gosling told him: “This man was doing his job and what happened on that day was a direct result of you losing your temper.

“You had been handed a prison sentence and both you and your wife were upset by this, but that does not excuse what you did.

“Those who are involved in court security should feel safe from bad-tempered and violent people.” Christopher Gabbitas, prosecuting, told the court that McKenna had 40 previous convictions, mainly for dishonesty.

Mr Gabbitas said: “He (McKenna) was in a mobility scooter and had just been handed a 13-week prison sentence.

“His family was in the public gallery. All of them were upset.

“He asked if he could kiss his wife goodbye and he was told that he couldn’t so he attempted to get to her anyway.

“He rammed his mobility scooter into the officer the first time and immediately apologised, but then rammed a second time.

“The scooter jerked up and had to be removed from the officer.

“He was taken to hospital with a suspected fracture and had to be put in plas- ter for two weeks.

“Interviewed while in prison, Mr McKenna told the police he did not intend to hit the officer. He said the scooter simply jerked forward.” In 2006, McKenna and his wife were branded “evil” and “warped” by a judge after falsely claiming nearly £40,000 in benefits.

At the time, McKenna had claimed £11,218 in housing and council tax benefit over a five-year period, despite working for several companies.

His wife claimed £27,669 over five-anda- half years, often using her husband’s name as part of the application, even though the pair frequently lived apart.

Katrina Wilson, for McKenna, said her client was sorry for causing the injury.

She said: “In the context, emotions were running very high.

“Things became frantic, heated and the situation escalated quickly.

“He does not criticise the prison guard for saying ‘no’ but that was the trigger for what happened.

“His wife was upset and he was upset.”

As well as handing McKenna the suspended sentence Judge Gosling also imposed a tagged curfew on him for six months, meaning he cannot leave his home between the hours of 7pm and 7am.

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