Man jailed after attack on council staff

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A man who threw a computer monitor and a chair at members of Canterbury City Council’s staff who were trying to help him has been jailed.

Patrick Weller, 31, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty in court on Monday 26 February to destroying or damaging property at the council’s offices in Military Road, Canterbury.

Magistrates in Folkestone sentenced him to 18 weeks in prison for that offence and for damaging a police cell in September last year for which he had originally received a conditional discharge.

Weller was being helped by officers from the council’s housing solutions team when he became aggressive. He told them he would not be going anywhere until he got what he wanted and threatened to ‘wrap’ a computer monitor around their heads before throwing it towards them, followed by a chair.

Canterbury City Council Chief Executive Colin Carmichael said: “Council staff wake up in the mornings determined to help people and do not deserve to be attacked or verbally abused for simply doing their job.

“This incident left our officers shocked, shaken and distressed. We take a zero-tolerance approach to attacks on our staff and those who behave in this way can be certain there will be consequences.”

One group of council workers who are also regular targets for physical attacks and verbal abuse are enforcement officers. On the same day Weller was arrested, a builder threatened to kill an enforcement officer in Canterbury’s Rosemary Lane car park.

In 2017, there were 13 serious incidents involving enforcement officers including:

  • In February, a man issued with a fixed penalty notice for littering in Canterbury’s St Radigund’s car park drove his car at an enforcement officer, threatened him and stole his radio
  • In August,  a man was given a two-month prison sentence suspended for two years and a year-long curfew after punching an enforcement officer in the face in an unprovoked attack in Station Road West, Canterbury
  • In October, a driver stormed out of the Carpenters Arms pub in Tower Way, Canterbury, and shoved a parking ticket into an enforcement officer’s back before trying to hit him with his car door.
  • In November, a man apologised after being spoken to by the police after unleashing a tirade of verbal abuse on an officer in Little Charles Street, Herne Bay.
  • At the end of November, an enforcement officer was subject to a torrent of verbal abuse and common assault after asking a driver to move on from a loading bay. The driver apologised after being spoken to by the police.

Mr Carmichael said: “Many people think our enforcement officers are fair game especially when commenting on social media.

“What they fail to realise is the team is dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone in the district and tackling some of our most-complained about issues. They tackle littering, try to catch the vandals who daub graffiti and try to prosecute the flytippers who spoil our countryside.

“At the same time, parked cars that break the rules have a huge impact on other motorists by causing congestion, creating danger in and around the school gates, stopping buses getting through, and could pose a serious problem for the emergency services who are racing on blue lights to save lives.

“If you don’t want a ticket, don’t be antisocial and don’t break the rules.”