A Burton man drove at a police officer, throwing him six to seven feet down the road, deliberately crashed into a lamppost 300 metres further on before running off on foot, a court has heard.
But despite pleading guilty to causing bodily harm to PC Scott Caswell by wanton and furious driving and a separate offence of dangerous driving, Barrie Pearce has avoided jail.
The 26-year-old, of Cross Street, Burton, who also admitted driving with excess alcohol, was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court to 12 months in prison which was suspended for 18 months.
Recorder Anupama Thompson also banned him from driving for 18 months and ordered him to do 100 hours of unpaid work and to take part in a rehabilitation activity for 35 days.
Prosecutor Cathlyn Orchard told the court that on Sunday, November 27, last year, at about 6.20pm, PC Caswell and a colleague were on patrol in Stratford.
The officers, who Miss Orchard pointed out were in uniform but in an unmarked car, were asked to attend "a matter of concern" in Hathaway Green Lane.
That followed a call to the police by Pearce's ex-wife who was concerned for his mental state after he had sent her a picture showing him in the car with alcohol and pills.
When they arrived, they saw Pearce sitting in his Ford Focus using his phone, so they pulled up a few metres in front of him and PC Caswell got out of their car and walked towards the Focus.
Miss Orchard said: "They made eye contact. The defendant would have been aware he was a police officer.
"Within seconds, the defendant threw down the phone and turned on the ignition and pressed on the accelerator hard, and drove straight at PC Caswell.
"The speed he attained was not great, but it gave PC Caswell no time to avoid being hit.
"There was contact between the front wing and the officer's right side, throwing him six to seven feet, and he banged his head on the ground and hurt his wrist."
Pearce continued driving, and the other officer tried to stop him by driving into the side of the Focus – but he kept going and drove off at speed with no lights on.
PC Caswell got back into the police car, and 300 metres further on at the junction with Alcester Road, they found the Focus abandoned, having ploughed into and knocked down a lamppost.
People from a nearby convenience store had rushed over to try to assist the driver, but Pearce got out and ran off on foot.
He was arrested nearby and found to be double the legal alcohol limit, and told the police he had had six cans of alcohol.
"The inference was that he had deliberately taken the car off the road to collide with the lamppost," said Miss Orchard.
She added that PC Caswell, a married man with two young children, fortunately escaped without severe injuries, but had to wear a brace to keep his thumb immobile, and also suffered cuts to his forehead and elbow.
Emma Nott, defending, said a report describes Pearce as a vulnerable person, and at the time he was in a suicidal state.
She said: "He said his intention when he drove into the lamppost was to harm no-one other than himself. He intended to take his own life. There have been two suicide attempts in the last year."
But he has been receiving help from the Eaton Foundation, in Burton, where he is said to have been making steady progress and has "hugely reduced his alcohol use".
"There is no need, in my respectful submission, for a punitive sentence. A custodial sentence would increase his risk, because it would undo the very good work the agencies have been doing with him," argued Miss Nott.
Recorder Thompson told Pearce: "The police officers attended to check on you because they were concerned for your welfare, and when PC Caswell came towards your vehicle that is what he was intending to do, but instead he was driven at by you.
"I accept you were suffering from mental health issues at the time, and that your intention was to harm yourself and you did not intend to harm anyone else. But when you are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you have a responsibility to other people.
"Officers day in and day out put themselves at risk by the duty they do, and on this day he was attempting to help you.
"You then drove into a lamppost, and you put not only yourself at risk, but other members of the public.
"But I accept this arose out of your vulnerability and your suicidal state. There is no doubt these offences pass the custody threshold. The question is whether I can suspend it."
If you need help
Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at email@example.com.
Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information. http://www.depressionalliance.org/
Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. http://studentsagainstdepression.org/
Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying. www.Bullying.co.uk