A police officer who was kicked and punched unconscious has spoken out after his attacker avoided a prison sentence.
Josh Smith, 20, was convicted at Hamilton Sheriff Court of two counts of assault to injury and a further count of assault.
He was sentenced to an 8pm to 7am curfew for six months, as well as an 18-month community payback order.
The Police Scotland officer, who asked not to be named, said Smith did not receive “proper punishment” for his actions, which forced him to take time off work.
He told 1919 magazine: “During the height of Covid, people were getting custodial sentences for coughing at police officers, and I’ve had somebody who, to put it bluntly, was close enough to killing me and all he’s got is to stay at home.
“Where is the justice in it? Police officers go out every day and risk their lives, because that’s what we do, we don’t know what we’re going into.”
The assault took place on April 11, 2021, when the officer and his colleague attended reports of a man with a knife in Gala Crescent, Wishaw.
When they arrived, Smith was standing in a garden, along with a female.
“We got out the car and told him to put his hands up and keep them where we could see them,” the police officer said.
“He complied with that and, as we took a couple of steps closer to him, he just jumped towards me.
“The only thing I could do was grab hold of him. I fell onto the ground and he ended up on top of me.
“And then he just started punching and kicking me. I remember trying to keep a hold of him but push him off me, and then I remember hearing my colleague screaming and hearing the radio call for help going out.
“Then I remember feeling heavy, heavy blows to my head, which was him either kicking or jumping on my head. I think that’s the point where I lost consciousness.”
Due to the time of the incident – 5am – other officers on nightshift were relatively quiet and headed to the property.
“Luckily for myself, the next car was literally ten seconds behind us because I think if it wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t be here to tell the story,” the officer said.
“I didn’t think he was going to stop. He told me he was going to kill me, and he made a good go at it.”
An allegation that Smith assaulted the officer to the endangerment of his life was deleted – something his victim finds difficult to accept.
He said: “That’s the thing that’s sticking in my throat because they’ve taken out the part of endangerment to life.
“The thing I can’t understand is that it was the Crown who decided there was an endangerment to life in the first place – they obviously thought they had enough to prosecute with that – so why delete that part of the charge?
“They’ve dropped that to a much lesser charge. How can you say kicking someone on the head is not endangering their life?”
In court, Smith’s defence agent acknowledged the serious nature of the charges, but pointed out that a social work report about his client was positive.
Sheriff Liam Murphy told Smith that, having considered the report, he was prepared to impose an alternative to a prison sentence.
The officer added: “He hasn’t even had proper punishment for this. I think it sends a message to people that they can do whatever they want, especially to the police.
“The thing is, people should respect the police, but the police don’t have any respect from the public anymore.”
There were 7,046 recorded assaults on police in Scotland in 2021/22, including officers and staff being punched, kicked and bitten while carrying out their duties.
While this was a decrease of 251 incidents compared to the previous year, it was 8.6 per cent higher than the five-year average.
David Hamilton, chair of the Scottish Police Federation, told 1919 Magazine: “Police officers are sick and tired of being betrayed by a justice system that pledges to take violence against police officers seriously, and then sees watered down charges leading to unduly lenient sentences.
“Is it unreasonable to expect that society should protect those who protect society?”
A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said: “Assaults on police officers and staff are reprehensible and Scotland’s prosecution service will take action to protect their safety.
“COPFS works closely with Police Scotland to ensure the effective investigation and prosecution of crime, properly addressing any criminal behaviour that threatens public safety and the safety of police officers.”