Welwyn Garden City man jailed after squirting bleach in face of policeman

PUBLISHED: 11:28 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:14 19 March 2018

Garren Underwood, of Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Supplied.

Garren Underwood, of Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Supplied.

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A Welwyn Garden City man who squirted bleach into the face and eye of a policeman on the doorstep of his mother’s house has been jailed for three and a half years.

A court heard moments after the bleach struck him, the officer could feel his face getting warm and his eye became irritable and began watering “profusely.”

Members of his attacker’s family came to the officers’s aid with bottles of water so he could wash the bleach away

The police had received reports that Garren Underwood from Welwyn Garden City was at his mother’s home in Stevenage and was threatening to use a bottle of bleach “as a weapon.”

Luckily, Police Constable Stephen Evans had armed himself with a “short shield” as he approached the front door of the house in Sweyns Mead, Stevenage last September.

Moments later, 51-year-old Underwood opened the door and immediately squirted the bleach at the officer.

On Friday, March 16, St Albans Crown Court was told the officer’s shield managed to deflect most of the liquid away, but some hit the officer on the left side of his face, his left eye and arm.

The fact that the officer also wore glasses had also provided him with some protection.

And thanks to Underwood’s own family, who rushed to the policeman’s aid with bottles of water so that he could wash his face and eyes, no serious or lasting injury was caused.

Police had to deploy a taser to subdue Underwood, who had been drinking heavily that day, said prosecutor Charles Judge.

Back at Stevenage Police station in the custody area, the court heard that Underwood continued to be abusive towards officers dealing with him.

To an Iranian born officer, Underwood shouted “F...... Taliban. Where are you going to blow up next!”

And after being taken to the nearby Lister Hospital to be treated for the effects of being tasered, Underwood - who has Hepatitis C - spat at another officer.

Underwood of Bellis House in Welwyn Garden City, pleaded guilty to throwing a corrosive substance with intent, racially aggravated intentional harassment, and common assault.

The court was told the how officers had gone to his mother’s home in Sweyns Mead, Stevenage on September 23 last year.

It followed a phone call to the police by his sister who told them her brother was at the house and threatening to use the bleach “as a weapon.”

In a statement made by PC Evans which was read to the court he said that in his 12 years of service he had been pushed, kicked and spat at “but never assaulted in such a way where there was a “serious risk of harm.”

Interviewed later after he had sobered up, the court Underwood told officers “I was just going off my head.”

He said his father and grandfather had recently died and he added “There was lots going on in my life.

Philip Sutton defending said his client’s relationship with his mother had been poor at the time and when there was another argument between them that day, he had set out to get himself arrested as a way to “spite her.”

He said “Through me he wants to apologise to the officers involved because he accepts it was appalling behaviour.”

Passing sentence Judge Andrew Bright QC told Underwood had the “corrosive” substance hit the officer full in the face that day then the damage to his eyes could have been permanent

The judge said he had attempted to cause grievous bodily harm to the officer.

He jailed him for a total of three years and six months.

Detective inspector Chris Treadwell from the Stevenage Local Crime Unit said: “The length of Mr Underwood’s sentence shows just how serious this offence was.

“The officer injured was just doing his job and Underwood callously attacked him in his line of duty.

“Luckily, the officer was correctly equipped to deal with the incident and the shield he was carrying protected him from the worst of the attack.

“However, it could have been much more serious.

“Officers working on the front line consistently put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public and we are pleased with the judge’s sentence, which we feel sends a strong message to say this sort of malicious behaviour will not be tolerated.

“I hope Mr Underwood uses his time behind bars to reflect on his actions.”

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