Devon

Man jailed for 24th Asbo breach in Devon

A man called a "violent drunk" by a judge has been jailed for assault and breaching his Anti-social Behaviour Order for the 24th time.

Anthony Thatcher, 53, of no fixed abode, punched a Torbay Hospital security guard so hard it threw him out of his wheelchair.

Since the Asbo was made in February 2009, Thatcher has been sentenced to a total of 842 days in jail.

On Monday the judge at Exeter Crown Court jailed Thatcher for nine months.

Thatcher's Asbo banned him from drinking in a public place, causing a disturbance on NHS premises or having contact with hospital guard John Nock.

'Sheer contempt'

Prosecutor Ann Hampshire told the court in the latest incident in November, security at Torbay Hospital was called when Thatcher became offensive because he was not receiving any treatment.

He then wheeled himself outside the main entrance and started shouting abuse as he drank from a bottle of cider in front of patients, staff and visitors.

A scuffle broke out as hospital guards tried to wheel Thatcher away from the main entrance.

Mr Nock held on to his wheelchair to prevent him rolling into traffic, but Thatcher punched him in the shoulder and cheek with such force that he fell out of the chair but kept kicking out as he lay on the ground.

Defence lawyer Kevin Hoppe said Thatcher's history made "unfortunate and unpleasant reading".

Thatcher, who was confined to a wheelchair after a traffic accident, admitted common assault and breaching his Asbo.

Judge Phillip Wassall called him a "violent drunk" and said he could not recall a worse case of someone deliberately ignoring an Asbo.

Jailing him for nine months, he warned Thatcher his sentences would get "longer and longer" if his behaviour continued.

Judge Wassall said hospitals were stressful enough places for patients and members of staff trying to treat them.

Thatcher had ignored the Asbo at will on 24 occasions and any excuses had "gone out of the window because of your sheer contempt for this order", the judge added.

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