Drunken Leeds thug who left two police officers in hospital escapes jail thanks to "soft" judge

Judge Mushtaq Khokhar
Judge Mushtaq Khokhar
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A JUDGE has been described as "soft" for handing a suspended prison sentence to a man who put two police officers in hospital in a violent attack.

West Yorkshire Police Federation accused judge Mushtaq Khokhar of "undermining the rule of law" over the community penalty handed to the drunken thug who left one constable with injuries which meant he had to spend three months away from work.

Paul Hutchinson laughed when interviewed about the violence he used towards the officers at his home in Seacroft, Leeds.

He then went on the run for 12 months to avoid punishment.

Leeds Crown Court heard one officer suffered a serious shoulder injury in the violence.

The other suffered stomach pains and badly swollen fingers after being kicked and punched.

Hutchinson, 24, fled court on the day he was due to stand trial over assaults.

He was arrested a year later after committing burglaries near to his home.

Judge Khokhar gave Hutchinson a suspended sentence with unpaid work after hearing how he would keep if his job if he was not jailed.

After the case, Chief Inspector Nick Smart, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation said: "We are at the forefront of the "Protect the Protectors" campaign.

"Part of this campaign is lobbying to ensure that those who assault police officers receive a custodial sentence upon conviction at court.

"In this case, Judge Khokhar has undermined the rule of law and officer confidence in the criminal justice system.

"It's is simply a disgraceful sentence, and unacceptable decision, given that the judge recognises that the sentence should be a custodial one.

"I think in the current climate given the risks police officers face and the danger we are prepared to put ourselves in to protect the public, this sentence will have many shaking their heads in disbelief.

"This soft and wrong decision underlines everything that is wrong with sentencing of those who assault police officers."

The two constables were sent to a house on Southway Lane, Seacroft, in the early hours on May 30, 2015, after a report of a disturbance between family members.

Martin Robertshaw, prosecuting, said the officers recognised Hutchinson's brother as being wanted by the police in relation to a different matter.

Hutchinson turned violent when one of the officers tried to arrest his brother.

The brothers struggled with the officer before Hutchinson picked up a large two-foot high plantpot filled with soil.

Mr Robertshaw said Hutchinson threw the pot at the officer's head. It struck the officer's arm when he tried to protect himself and was in severe pain.

He suffered a dislocated shoulder and need hospital treatment.

Hutchinson attacked the second officer, kicking him to the groin and punching him several times.

He threw a piece of concrete at the officers which missed.

Armed police were sent to the incident and Hutchinson was arrested after being tasered.

The court heard victim impact statements in which the officer with the dislocated shoulder described how the attack had had a "significant impact on his home life".

He had been away from work for three months which affected him financially because he had missed out on shift payments.

The strength in his shoulder has been left permanently weakened, despite undergoing physiotherapy.

The second officer described feeling anxious about returning to work.

Hutchinson absconded on the day he was due to go on trial over the attacks.

He remained at large until April this year when he was arrested in Seacroft after burgling garden sheds.

Hutchinson pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, breaching bail, and two offences of burglary.

Jayne Cooper, mitigating, said factory worker Hutchinson had been held in custody since his arrest eight weeks ago.

She said he would still have a job to return to if he was not sent back to prison.

Miss Cooper said Hutchinson could not remember attacking the officers because he had so much to drink.

She said Hutchinson and a problem with drink and smoking cannabis but was prepared to accept help.

The judge said: "It is a difficult exercise. Doing my public duty I ought to be sending you to prison for a long time for carrying out these assaults on police officers.

"The fact that there has been a passage of time doesn't make much difference, That passage of time is due to you being at large.

"You did not commit any other offences in the interim. Given that there is a job available to you I am not going to send you immediately to prison.

"I am going to suspend it for a period of time."

Hutchinson was given a 22 month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work.

The judge ordered Hutchinson to pay £500 compensation to one officer and £250 to the other.