Man who slashed police officer's throat jailed for five years

Aaron Gray from Middlesbrough left a four inch laceration on the plain-clothed officer's neck Credit: Police photo

A man who dragged a knife over a police officer's throat, leaving him fearing for his life, has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Aaron Gray, 31, of Albany Street, Middlesbrough, left a four inch laceration on the plain-clothed officer's neck while two other men held him down on Athol Street last June.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the officer approached the three men after suspecting they were involved in a drugs transaction.

Prosecutor Uzma Khan told the court that the officer recognised Gray from the day before, when he had used a drugs warrant to search his home.

The officer identified himself as police and Gray, who was on his bicycle, immediately cycled away. The officer pulled him back and grip-seal bags, cash and a mobile fell out of Gray's pockets.

The officer saw a black-handled knife in Gray's waistband and a "grapple" broke out, the court heard.

One of the men said "you have picked the wrong f****** person to do this with" before punching the officer to the ground.

The officer pressed his panic button to call for back-up and that was when the other two men came up behind him and grabbed his arms, holding him down, while Gray cut his throat, leaving him bleeding from a four inch laceration.

However, the officer didn't suffer serious injuries and has since returned to work.

Gray, who was on bail for other offences at the time of the attack, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and the possession of an offensive weapon at an earlier hearing.

The incident happened on Athol Street, Middlesbrough on June 19, 2021.

On January 12, he was also sentenced for the possession of a bladed article and the possession of a class A drug, after another incident May 12 last year.

Police saw Gray drop a small bag as they approached him and two other men on Peel street in Middlesbrough.

He was searched and police found a red-handled samurai sword with a 60cm blade. The bag was found to contain cocaine. He was also found to have pregabalin tablets on him and a number of mobile phones.

Gray was convicted of the two offences, after a jury rejected his argument that he had bought the samurai sword as an ornament.

The court heard he has 18 previous convictions for 48 offences, which were mainly drug and driving-related.

Gray was sentenced to five years in prison at Teesside Crown Court this week. Credit: PA Images

Defending Gray, Paul Abrahams said that his client had the opportunity to seriously injure the officer during the attack last June, but was trying to scare or humiliate him instead.

Mr Abrahams said that Gray was "utilising his time in prison" - he is a designated Covid-cleaner at HMP Durham and has also been working while in custody - building camouflage nets for the MoD.

Judge Jonathan Rose handed Gray a five-year-prison term, telling him: "I am certain that you recognised the police officer from the day before. Whilst straddled over him, you struck out at his neck with that knife.

"Then you deliberately dragged the knife along his neck causing a laceration. It's no thanks to you it was only a skin-deep laceration.

"Police officers protect the community from people like yourself and the scourge of drugs. An attack on an officer is an attack on the wider community."

The judge added that he wanted to put on record his admiration of the officer's actions and his fortitude in returning to duty.

After the sentencing, Cleveland Police’s Head of Crime John Bent said: “Our officers and staff work tirelessly to keep our communities safe - often in very challenging circumstances - and any form of assault against them will simply never ever be tolerated.

“The officer received immediate and on-going welfare and wellbeing support from the force and thankfully he has made a full recovery from what must have been a very traumatic experience.

“Gray has already spent months on remand and he will now spend a further lengthy period in prison where he will have time to reflect on his actions and their consequences.”