Home News Bristol man in court for spitting at police after dramatic arrest

Bristol man in court for spitting at police after dramatic arrest


A Bedminster man spat at police after his skull was fractured during an arrest, a court heard.

Robert Winston, of Lower Sidney Street, sustained the injury when his head hit the concrete ground as he was detained on suspicion of common assault. He then swore and spat at officers.

Wearing a white Ralph Lauren shirt and black jeans in the dock, the 34-year-old appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Tuesday, August 17) and admitted common assault against two officers.

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Prosecutor Sandra Massiah said: “On January 2 this year, just before 2am, police were called to Clift House Road by a member of the public who could hear a female screaming for help outside.

“Police then received another call, reporting that a female was screaming for help. Officers arrived and met an escalating situation. The defendant would not cooperate.

“Due to an allegation, the defendant was arrested on suspicion of common assault. The defendant continued to display intoxicated and resisting behaviour, so police had to use force to take him to the floor.

“During this takedown he hit his head against concrete. Due to a concern for welfare, he was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary to ensure he had no internal injuries.”

While in hospital, Winston continued to be abusive to officers, telling one: “You’re a c*** and I hope you die.”

He spat towards the officers and his saliva landed next to PC Alex Johnson and PC Thomas Jones, the court heard.

Though Winston was never charged in connection to the incident involving the female, he admitted two counts of common assault against the police officers.

During an interview with police, he was shown police bodycam footage of his behaviour, which led him to say: “I can’t keep watching it, it’s horrible.”

Ms Massiah said Winston has a “very small list” of previous convictions, having not been before the court since 2014.

His lawyer Jennifer Stetson told the court the prosecution file had omitted that Winston sustained a skull fracture when he was taken to the ground by police.

“He doesn’t use that as an excuse for his behaviour but it is very significant that he was indeed very badly injured,” she added.

“Mr Winston thinks some of his behaviour in the hospital would have been as a result of that injury. Of course, we can’t separate that out from the fact he had been drinking.

“He doesn’t understand why the [pre-sentence report] writer says he goes between his mother’s, father’s and friends’ addresses.

“He didn’t have a relationship with his father, who did pass away a few weeks ago, but it is right he is staying with his mother and his friends, going between the two.”

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Ms Stetson pointed out Winston’s spit “didn’t connect” with the officers, instead landing on the floor. She said her client’s drinking is now under control.

“He tells me he had been undiagnosed since 15 with BPD [borderline personality disorder]. He did the research recently and was diagnosed with BPD, which was what he thought he had, only last year. He has had some therapy and is on medication which has stabilised things to an extent.”

Robert Winston leaves the court
Robert Winston outside court

She argued Winston was unsuitable for unpaid work because so much of his time is occupied by caring for his mother, who has “a fairly aggressive form” of cancer.

Presiding Justice Susan Helfer asked the lawyer: “You’re saying he doesn’t wish to do unpaid work but he can do rehabilitation activity days. How’s that going to work?”

Ms Stetson replied that she understands a rehabilitation requirement would be “more flexible” and could be done over the phone.

‘Appalling behaviour’

Handing down the sentence, Presiding Justice Susan Helfer said: “It sounds as though you behaved appallingly.

“If you hadn’t behaved so badly, police wouldn’t have been called in the first place. Then you made matters worse by not cooperating with them.”

She told Winston his spitting was “worse because of the current Covid situation”.

Mrs Helfer imposed a 20-day rehabilitation requirement, a £250 fine, £50 in compensation to each officer, £95 victim services surcharge and £85 in prosecution costs.

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