Two detectives thought they were going to die when a prisoner they were transporting on the M62 suddenly attacked them like a wild animal, as they were going at 70mph in the fast lane.
Leeds Crown Court heard Christopher Wayne Hartley, 44, was being taken from Huddersfield to Cheshire for questioning when without warning near to Scammonden he suddenly launched himself from the rear on top of DC Victoria Shelton’s head as she was driving.
He used the handcuffs he was wearing to hit her and also pushed her head against the window making it impossible for her to see as she struggled to control the Vauxhall Corsa.
She remembered him punching her and trying to gouge her eyes out all the while he was screaming and shouting like a madman.
Duncan Ritchie, prosecuting, said her colleague, DC David MacFarlane who was in the back seat with Hartley, was desperately trying to restrain him.
When miraculously DC Shelton managed to steer across three lanes of busy traffic and bring the car to a halt on the hard shoulder, Hartley a convicted sex offender, then turned his attentions to DC MacFarlane.
He climbed on top of him “screaming and growling” and using his teeth began to gnaw on his right arm.
As DC Shelton climbed over to help him Hartley turned and spat a piece of her colleague’s flesh into her face before calming down as suddenly as he had erupted.
Hartley had been arrested on September 7 last year at his home in Blackhouse Road, Fartown, for questioning in Cheshire about a sexual allegation.
At that time four laptops and eight phones were seized from his home which breached a previous Sexual Offences Prevention order because he had told his monitoring officer he only had two phones.
He also admitted they would find indecent images in his possession and when the various devices including a USB stick and pen containing a camera were later examined 2,135 indecent still images and 282 movies were found as well as 10 prohibited images and seven extreme pornography.
Both officers from the Cheshire force spent months off work as a result of their injuries and DC Shelton is still having counselling.
She told the judge she thought they were all going to die and she would never see her three daughters again. DC MacFarlane had to have surgery on his arm, HIV and other tests and has been left with “an unsightly scar.”
Hartley was jailed for a total of 14 years after he admitted two offences of attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm with intent, one of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, seven of possessing indecent images, one of possessing extreme pornography and breaching the Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
Both officers from the Cheshire force read their victim impact statements to the judge in court. DC Shelton said she thought they were all going to die and she would never see her three daughters again.
In the days after the incident she had whiplash injuries and suffered nightmares.
She said: “I can only see the evil face that tried to kill me coming towards me like a caged animal.
“It was the worst day of my life and I thought it would be the last day of my life.”
She said she had never realised how hard it was to be the victim of crime. As they struggled she had begged Hartley for her life “and he only hit me harder.
“He came very close to his goal, it doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened it could have been pure carnage.”
DC MacFarlane had to have surgery on his arm and has been left with “an unsightly scar.” He also had to undergo HIV tests because a self-testing kit was found at Hartley’s home and it was three months before he found out he was in the clear from that and other transferable diseases such as hepatitis.
Judge James Spencer QC, jailing Hartley, said when he attacked DC Shelton as she was driving in the fast lane it was “a mercy there was not some catastrophe.”
In spite of Hartley’s severe attack on her including trying to choke her, punch her and gouge her eyes out she managed to bring it to a halt on the hard shoulder.
He then attacked her colleague. “You behaved like an animal, you bit his arm so severely that you had blood on your face and skin in your mouth which you spat at the female officer and tried to gouge his eyes out. You were intent on causing serious harm to both of them.”
John Boumphrey, representing Hartley, said that he had written letters to the officer apologising for his out of character “moment of madness.”
Although he had a previous conviction for indecent assault in 1997 and possessing and distributing indecent images in 2012 he had none for violence.
West Yorkshire Police led the enquiry and Det Sgt Zaheer Abbas, of Kirklees CID, said: “We welcome the sentence handed down to Hartley today. His actions on the day he was arrested were despicable and our colleagues from Cheshire police suffered serious injuries as a result.
“Police officers do a difficult and dangerous job and it is completely unacceptable for any level of violence used against them as they are trying to do their job and keep our communities safe.”
Cheshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey said: “Police officers work extremely hard to protect the public on a daily basis and they do not deserve to be assaulted as they carry out their duties.
“The sentence handed to Hartley today reflects the severity of this horrific attack and the trauma caused to the officers involved.
“At the time of the incident both officers genuinely feared for their lives, and they are still recovering from what happened that day, both physically and emotionally.
“Both of the officers have since returned to work and they are being supported through this difficult and traumatic time.
“I would like to pass my sincere thanks to West Yorkshire Police for conducting this investigation and for assisting the officers when the incident occurred.”