A man who sprayed ammonia into the face of a Met officer before threatening him with a gun has been jailed.
James Boyle, 22 (17.05.00) of Pulross Road, Brixton, was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court on Monday, 13 March having pleaded guilty at the same court on 11 November 2022 to the following offences:
– Administering a poison or noxious substance with intent;
– Possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence;
– Using a firearm with intent;
– Assault (Actual Bodily Harm);
– Possession of a bladed article (knife);
– Possession of a bladed article (axe);
– Having a corrosive substance in a public place
Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Woodsford, from Specialist Crime, said: “Boyle is an extremely dangerous offender and we are pleased that the overwhelming evidence gathered during our investigation left him with no choice but to plead guilty.
“We have no doubt that he would have caused further harm was he not identified and arrested so quickly.
“My thoughts remain with the officers involved in this incident who are fortunate not to have suffered lasting injury. Police officers routinely put themselves in harm’s way but no-one should have to come home from work having being assaulted in the course of their duty.”
Shortly after midnight on 17 June 2022 police were called to reports of people acting suspiciously around parked vehicles on Commonside East, Mitcham.
One of the officers, PC Samuel Goard, approached a male, who we now know to be Boyle, and attempted to speak to him – asking him to take his hands out of his pockets.
Boyle then pulled out a bottle and sprayed the officer in the face with ammonia before moving toward him.
Despite only being able to see out of one eye, the officer managed to use his PAVA spray which caused the suspect to turn around and flee.
PC Goard said in his victim impact statement: “At the time of the incident I was in complete fear for my life. I did not know what the male had sprayed at me. Thoughts of acid, ammonia or any liquid that could have caused me irreversible injuries to my eye, sight, or permanent disfigurement to my face overcame me.
“My thoughts turned to my son at home, was he going to grow up only knowing me as having a disfigured face, will he recognise me when I go home?”
PC Goard was joined by his colleague, PC George Garner, and the pair chased Boyle on foot. As they did so, Boyle pulled out a handgun from his waistband and pointed it toward the officers – without firing it – before escaping on foot.
An investigation was launched and detectives spent hours collating and trawling through CCTV, leading them to identifying their suspect as James Boyle.
He was located and arrested by officers on Friday, 24 June 2022. On arrest, a knife and an axe were found in his rucksack along with a drinks bottle containing ammonia.
During a search of his home address, a grey tracksuit top was found which was identical to the one worn by Boyle in the officers’ body worn video footage.
The investigation also uncovered that the firearm Boyle used to threaten officers had been fired prior to police arrival, and live rounds of ammunition were recovered. The ammunition and the bottle containing the liquid both provided forensic matches to Boyle.
PC Garner said in his impact statement: “When he [Boyle] pulled the gun on me I felt powerless and had to let him run away. I was left with the same recurring thought – if it was so easy to point a gun at a police officer what would he do to a member of the public?
“I returned to work the day after the incident. I love my job and didn’t want what happened to affect me or make me fearful, but it is a terrifying reminder that the most routine call could end up being something that could change my life or the lives of my loved ones forever.”
DCI Woodsford, added: “Tackling violent crime is one of our top priorities and this includes those who assault our staff. Abuse of emergency workers is never acceptable and we will always deal robustly with offences of this nature.”