Tayside and Central Scotland

Police officer spared jail over assaults on wife and lover

Stirling Sheriff Court
Image caption Andrew Richardson stood trial for five days at Stirling Sheriff Court

A police officer who attacked his wife and his lover has been spared a jail sentence after a sheriff praised his police record.

Andrew Richardson, who was awarded medals for guarding Britain's nuclear submarines, punched his wife Gillian in the face.

Richardson, 46, also kicked his lover Noreen Pacteau six times in the stomach.

Sheriff Gillian Wade QC sentenced Richardson to 300 hours unpaid work.

Mrs Richardson was assaulted in 1999, while the attack on Ms Pacteau happened in 2011.

The policeman grabbed his wife by the throat, pushed her against a wall, and punched her in the face in a flat in Easterhouse, Glasgow.

During the trial, the court heard that the assault on Mrs Richardson - who is still married to Richardson but is seeking a divorce - came to light after Ms Pacteau told of her assault.

Officers from the Police Scotland domestic abuse investigation unit then began to investigate Richardson's previous relationships.

In April, following a five-day trial, a jury at Stirling Sheriff Court found Richardson, of Drymen, Stirlingshire, guilty of the assaults.

The court had heard Richardson helped to run security at RNAD Coulport in Argyll - the storage and loading facility for the UK's stock of Trident nuclear warheads - and at Faslane, home to Britain's four Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UK's nuclear submarines have been based at Faslane since the mid 1990s

On Tuesday 26 May, Richardson's defence counsel Mark Moir said the policeman was considered a "trustworthy" officer and had won both a Divisional Commander's Commendation and a Good Conduct medal during 25 years' service.

Ms Pacteau - who is the mother of Alexander Pacteau, the man accused of murdering student Karen Buckley in Glasgow - said: "When he was nice, he was so lovely to me, but the fear was always there, the horrendous, horrendous fear.

"He told me he'd get a gun and shoot me and the kids."

Mr Moir said Richardson had now been "required to resign".

He said: "He was a temporary inspector and he might have been made a full inspector in due course. That's no longer going to happen.

"He has lost his future employment, and his pension rights have been affected."

Sentence criticised

After reading a background report, Sheriff Gillian Wade QC said Richardson - who had denied the charges - still did not accept his guilt.

She said she would sentence him to a community-based disposal of 300 hours unpaid work "as a direct alternative to custody" because of his work record and lack of previous convictions.

She said: "These were serious assaults which have had an impact on the ladies concerned, and giving their statements to the court was clearly a traumatic occasion for them both.

"I do however take into account the fact that you have come to court as a first offender, and these offences are of an historic nature.

"I take into account that you have previously been of good character and that you are in employment and that employment seems to have gone very well until now, and I take into account the consequences which these convictions will have on you in that regard, which will clearly be significant."

Outside of the courtroom, Mrs Richardson criticised the sentence.

She said: "It is totally unjust, soft-touch justice. The SNP have told judges they shouldn't be locking so many people up, and this is the result.

"He definitely should have been jailed."

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