A drunken thug forced terrified paramedics to lock themselves in the cab of their ambulance as he kicked and punched the vehicle.
Darren Stokoe was being treated by the ambulance crew when he decided to attack the vehicle, at times climbing onto the bonnet to spit on the windscreen, Sunderland magistrates heard.
Now magistrates have decided it would be unjust to the 24-year-old to activate a suspended sentence he is already subject to for one of his many previous offences.
The North East Ambulance Service blasted the decision, calling it “extremely disappointing”.
Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “At 2.05pm on November 1, police were called to a report of an aggressive male in West Sunniside.
“An ambulance had attended to treat an intoxicated male and soon after had been under attack.
The staff were forced to lock themselves in the cab for their own protectionGlenda Beck, prosecuting
“The defendant had punched and kicked at the front nearside of the vehicle.
“He climbed onto the bonnet and spat at the windscreen and has also punched and kicked the other side of the ambulance.
“The staff were forced to lock themselves in the cab for their own protection.”
Officers told Stokoe to keep his hands where they could see them, the court heard.
Stokoe, however, reached into his pocket and police took hold of him and lifted him up by his arms.
Ms Beck said the defendant began to resist and shout abuse.
Stokoe then said: “You think I’m scared of you? You get me back into that ambulance.”
He was arrested and taken to the police station.
Stokoe, of Hudson Road, Hendon, pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly.
Heather Bolton, defending, said: “Mr Stokoe is on a suspended sentence and your starting point is activation of that sentence, unless it’s unjust to do so.
“This offence in itself does not attract a custodial sentence, only a fine or a discharge.
“On this occasion I would argue that it would be unjust to activate the sentence.
“Mr Stokoe has a problem with alcohol.
“He has served a term of imprisonment and been subject to a suspended sentence order.
“He is working with the Probation Service as part of that suspended sentence order.
“He is embarrassed by the outline of the case by the Crown Prosecution Service.
“He ended up in intensive care, not on this occasion but on another, and he spent five days on a detox programme to try and resolve his condition.”
Stokoe was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge, with £85 costs and a £20 surcharge.
The bench left the suspended sentence to run its course.
Head of risk at North East Ambulance Service, Alan Gallagher, said, “The safety of staff and their patients is our highest priority.
“Our staff need to feel safe in their working environment – what they do is more than a job to them and they dedicate themselves to saving and protecting people in our community.
“It is totally unacceptable that they experience any kind of abuse whilst at work and we do not tolerate any form of violence or aggression against them.
“We actively encourage staff to report any violent or abusive incident so that we can support them to pursue a formal criminal complaint.
“When formal criminal action is taken against people who abuse our resources and assault our staff, if can be extremely disappointing if the judgement does not appear to recognise the impact that they have had on the service at large and our greatest asset – our staff.”