Policewoman thought she was going to die as suspect held her head under water
A POLICEWOMAN thought she was going to die as a suspect held her face under water after they had fallen into a dam in a struggle, a court heard.
• Police were warned about challenging James Brand, who was described as a ‘f****** lunatic’ by his friend
• Brand pulled PC Angela Melia into the water, and held her face down as she struggled
• PC Melia became agoraphobic and has suffered sleeping problems since the attack
PC Angela Melia, 33, has been left “shattered” by the attack by James Brand, 23, and fears she will never get over it.
A friend of Brand had warned the officer and her colleague that they should take care in challenging him over vandalism to parked cars.
“You better watch him, he’s a f****** lunatic,” the man had said.
Brand, of Sauchie, Clackmannanshire, was originally accused of attempting to murder PC Melia at Gartmorn Dam, Sauchie, on 1 July but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of assaulting her to the danger of her life, while under bail orders for two other alleged assaults.
He will be sentenced later this month. The High Court in Edinburgh heard that the dam was popular with walkers and anglers, and PC Melia and PC Mark Ormesher responded to a call about damage to cars in the car park. Brand was one of two men pointed out to the officers.
“He was seen to be under the influence of some substance, swaying from side to side. He adopted an aggressive and unco-operative demeanour,” said advocate-depute, Iain McSporran. Brand walked backwards towards the water, ignoring warnings. PC Ormesher approached, and the other man told PC Melia to beware but she thought her colleague needed help and went down to the water’s edge.
“The officers got close enough to seize hold of his arms in an attempt to pull him away from the water and deal with him,” said Mr McSporran.
“He reacted violently to this, struggling and lashing out with his arms and attempting to strike the officers while shouting and swearing at them.
“All three ended up standing in the water. Then the accused grabbed PC Melia by her clothing and pulled downwards so that she ended up face down in the water.” The water was deep enough that PC Melia’s face was fully immersed. She tried to pull her head away but Brand continued to hold her down.
“She began to panic and inhaled water and silt. Witnesses saw her thrashing about in an effort to break free,” said Mr McSporran. “The weight of her stab-proof vest also contributed to her inability to break the surface of the water.”
PC Ormesher pushed Brand into the water and used his CS gas spray to incapacitate him.
“The reporting officer advises that, in his view, the incident has had a devastating impact on the officer.
“She attended her GP the day after the incident, having ‘gone to pieces’ when the matter was reported on the news. She became agoraphobic, did not leave her house for two weeks, and was unable to return to work for five weeks,” said Mr McSporran.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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