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Police officer who suffered life-changing injuries after headbutt urges sheriff to get tough on attacker

Thomas Stewart at Inverness Sheriff Court.
Thomas Stewart, 27, pleaded guilty to assaults on a police officer and taxi driver at Inverness Sheriff Court.

A policeman who lost his memory after being headbutted has urged a sheriff to make an example of his attacker to help deter assaults on other officers in the future.

The police constable missed a month of work, was signed off twice and confined to light duties after suffering a life-changing head injury on September 25 last year.

It happened while the officer tried to apprehend Thomas Stewart, 27, who had repeatedly punched a taxi driver elsewhere in Inverness earlier.

When Stewart was located on Mayfield Road, he resisted arrest by headbutting the Pc who he knocked to the ground semi-conscious.

The thug is due to be sentenced this month after pleading guilty to assaulting the officer and admitting to harming the taxi driver.

Speaking anonymously to the Press and Journal, the constable said: “Police assaults are on the increase.

“I do feel strongly that the court can help by sentencing to try and deter violence against officers.”

No memory for six months

The dad-of-two has been living with post-concussion syndrome, which has left him with no memory of his day-to-day life for six months and the feeling of a “seriously bad hangover” every day.

He said: “The part of my brain that was injured affects my personality, my memory, my concentration, which were all issues that I was struggling with.

“We’re now nine months on and there are still issues arising from it.

“I’m still suffering headaches from time to time and the simplest of things that were trivial before the headbutt, like multi-tasking, are now challenging.”

Doctors have assured the emergency response officer that he will make a full recovery sometime in the future but medics cannot be sure of when.

“Post-concussion syndrome is something that just recovers in its own time,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s forced to learn to live with the significant and lasting impact of the injury on his work and personal life.

‘Frustration, upset and despair’

Speaking about the tough time he’s going through, the officer said: “I feel a lot of frustration, upset and despair knowing that this headbutt has affected and changed me.

“I feel sadness at the memory of what I was and what I was able to do, but also determination that it’s not going to hold me back.

“I will build myself up to be the person and officer that I was nine months ago.”

In the past fortnight, the officer has come off light duties as he works towards rebuilding his confidence on the beat.

He admitted having doubts about his career and explained: “When I was first off work, I wanted to resign. I was going to take any other form of employment.

“I couldn’t see myself coming back and being faced with the threat of further injury and putting my wife and children through that again.

“It was through a lot of time and a lot of meetings with doctors and sessions with our employee assistance that gave me the determination to come back and build myself back up.”

Officers face assaults three or four times a week

The Inverness policeman urged other colleagues who’ve been affected by violence on the job to report it.

He estimated that colleagues in the Highland capital face assaults “three or four times a week”.

The Pc said: “The scope for officers to be injured is massive and unfortunately it is the case that we are experiencing more and more officers being assaulted and being injured.

“It’s certainly not uncommon and it’s everything from the lower end of a kick to the shin or a kick to the leg to something more serious.

“My aim is to highlight the difficulties and dangers that police officers face, so, hopefully, the public can understand and appreciate what their officers are doing for them,” he said.

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