Man choked police officer unconscious during attack

John Dow has been remanded in custody ahead of his sentencing for the attack in Coatbridge.

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A man choked a police officer unconscious leaving colleagues fearing he had been killed.

John Dow pounced on PC Paul Gavan as the officer responded to a large-scale disturbance in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, on July 26, 2020.

The burly 36-year-old strangled the constable for more than a minute after he tried to arrest him.

CCTV footage captured other officers struggling to drag Dow off a stricken PC Gavan.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Angela Gray told the High Court in Glasgow: “PC Gavan was placed in the recovery position by colleagues.

“An ambulance was summoned. Some officers – on seeing him unconscious – thought he was dead.”

The 33-year-old PC eventually came to after being knocked out cold for 20 seconds. However, a judge was told the officer has suffered “significant trauma” as a result of his ordeal.

Dow had been due to go to trial accused of attempting to murder PC Gavan.

He instead pled guilty to the reduced charge of assaulting the constable to his severe injury and danger of his life.

Unemployed Dow will be sentenced next month.

PC Gavan and a colleague had stopped in Mitchell Street, Coatbridge, as a group were arguing with each other and damaging property.

Ms Gray told how Dow was part of the mob.

As the officers called for back-up, Dow became annoyed after a man was detained.

Ms Gray said Dow started filming officers on his mobile phone while being “aggressive and challenging” to PC Gavan.

PC Gavan eventually told Dow he was under arrest.

Dow then lashed out, grabbing the constable, punching him and squeezing his throat tightly.

The advocate depute said: “He kept his grip of PC Gavan. They both fell into a hedge with Dow on top of him.

“PC Gavan felt that his life was in danger. He tried to free himself from Dow by punching him on the head, but this had no effect.

“PC Gavan lost consciousness – he was motionless.”

CCTV showed Dow still kept a hold of the victim and it took two other officers to finally get him off.

Ms Gray said: “In total, Dow had his hand around the neck of PC Gavan for approximately one minute and ten seconds.”

Dow then went on to briefly grab PC George Hay, but was quickly overpowered.

The court heard PC Gavan – who had 11 years’ service – ended up with a broken nose, damaged teeth, bruising, scratches and swelling.

Ms Gray said: “He has suffered significant psychological trauma in the wake of the attack upon him.”

Dow also admitted assaulting PC Hay to his injury.

Tony Graham QC, defending, said Dow reacted as he believed there had been “no need” to arrest him that night.

Lord Fairley remanded Dow in custody as the case was adjourned for reports.