A custody officer was off work for five and a half months after his hand was cut by a defendant who slashed his own throat in a Huddersfield court.
Jurors at Leeds Crown Court heard there was no dispute Gary James Bell caused the injury to Neil Barnard but the issue was whether it was done recklessly “or as a result of a pure accident” as he cut his neck.
Bell, 22 of Sycamore Court, Milnsbridge, denies unlawfully wounding Mr Barnard on July 31, 2014.
John Boumphrey prosecuting told the jury Bell had just been sentenced by Kirklees Magistrates to 16 weeks in prison for common assault and criminal damage.
Court and security staff were aware Bell had mental health issues in the past and GEOAmey staff had been called into court ready to take him into custody.
Mr Boumphrey said: “Following the sentence Bell slashed his own throat with a blade he had carefully smuggled into court.” he said.
Mr Barnard was one of the officers who tried to prevent what he did and in the process was cut on the middle and index fingers of his left hand. Later he was found to have a tendon severed which affected his grip.
Bell later said he was unaware at the time he had injured the officer and only intended to slash his own throat “because he would rather be dead than go to prison.”
“I just wanted to kill myself that was my intention. I was solely focussed on what I was doing to my neck, I was not aware of what was going on around me.”
He told the jury he suffered from depression and had self-harmed in the past. He had hidden the blade in a packet of Rizla inside his tobacco tin to get it into the court building.
“All I was trying to do was kill myself, what other people were doing I wasn’t focusing on that. I could see people had hold of me while I was cutting myself but that was it. I was just going for my neck over and over.
“I was aiming for the jugular I never thought anybody would have a chance to intervene, I thought I would bleed out.”
Bell had multiple scars on his throat as a result of what he had done and had 47 staples put in his neck in hospital to close his wounds.
Earlier Mr Barnard, a prison custody officer for 14 years, said Bell was standing as his sentence was passed. He said he came up behind Bell and suddenly saw “some unusual movements.”
“From the back I saw his elbows going. I thought he was taking something out of his clothing. It was unusual, very unusual and it was all quite fast really.”
He took hold of Bell’s arm and shoulder firmly and felt a sharp pain on his fingers. “I thought I had been scratched. I put some force into my grip and pulled him back towards me.
“When I looked down it was a Stanley knife blade. I realised I hadn’t been scratched.”
Mr Barnard said he could see his own hand was bleeding. He was later seen in hospital where his injuries were dressed and his finger was in a splint for nine and a half weeks.
Under cross-examination by Peter Byrne defending Bell he agreed the defendant would have been “entirely unaware” he was standing behind him.
Senior custody officer Jane Haxby told the jury Bell’s demeanour changed when he heard he was being jailed. “The expression on his face changed he seemed to become quite pale but also the look on his face was quite angry.
“As I went to cuff him that’s when his hands suddenly came up. He cupped one hand in the other straight up to his neck. He made a sweeping move from one side then twice across the other way.
“His neck just opened up and there was just blood.”
The trial continues.