Stratford man ‘heard voices’ before attacking policewoman with pepper spray, court hears

Thames Magistrates Court

Thames Magistrates Court - Credit: Archant

A man who admitted spraying a policewoman with a noxious substance has claimed he heard voices before the attack.

Terrence Nelson of Sandal Street, Stratford, told police following the assault it was a "stupid mistake" and that voices told him to do it, Thames Magistrates' Court heard on Wednesday, January 15.

Mr Nelson said: "I just want everyone to know I'm humbly regretful."

Police were called to a row involving Mr Nelson and his neighbours at 6pm on January 2.

When officers went to arrest his partner, the 29-year old sprayed the policewoman with pepper spray from a pump action container shaped like a stick of lipstick.

The officer said she felt "instant pain" to her mouth, nose and face, before Mr Nelson was "taken to the floor".

"I was struggling to get my breath. I started to panic because I didn't know what I had been sprayed with," she said in a statement.

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She was treated at Newham Hospital with side effects including breathing difficulties, stomach reflux and sore throat.

"This is the first time I've been assaulted on duty. I now experience heightened anxiety," she said.

The attack also put a strain on her personal life with her family and partner anxious she could be attacked again, the court heard.

Mr Nelson's solicitor, who asked not to be named, urged the court to adjourn for a fuller assessment to be made of his mental health and fitness to plead.

She added Mr Nelson needed help addressing substance abuse and anxiety issues.

But deputy district judge, Matthew Bone, said there was no evidence of true psychosis or an issue on his fitness to plead.

A person of good character found guilty of just possessing a weapon such as pepper spray would face a six month jail sentence, he explained.

The fact that Mr Nelson did not breach a suspended sentence for violence in 2012 shows he understands the consequences of violent behaviour, he added.

"The most appalling thing is he actually used the item to inflict harm on an officer going about her duty. His case is more serious.

"The impact on the victim is clear. Notwithstanding she is a police officer, she is also a human being," Judge Bone said.

He committed Mr Nelson to appear at Snaresbrook Crown Court on January 22 for a judge to determine his sentence and allow defence time to prepare a psychiatric report.