May 2017

Violent paedophile behaved like ‘caged animal’ and almost killed two police officers in M62 horror attack

TWO police officers were almost killed when a paedophile turned violent and behaved “like a caged animal” as he was being driven along a motorway after being arrested.

Christopher Hartley struck one officer over the head with his handcuffs and attempted to gouge her eyes out as she drove along the M62 at 70mph.

Her colleague had a chunk bitten out of his arm.

A court heard the officers believed they were going to die as Hartley screamed, growled and spat out the officer’s flesh as they pleaded with him to stop the attack.

Leeds Crown Court was told Cheshire Constabulary detective constables Victoria Shelton and David MacFarlane travelled to arrest Hartley at his home in Huddersfield on September 7 last year.

Mobile phones, laptop tops and other equipment were also seized from the property after Hartley admitted to the officers they contained indecent images of children.

Hartley, 44, was placed in handcuffs and put in the car by the two officers before they headed back across the Pennines.

Duncan Ritchie said Hartley and the officers had spoken politely to each other and he gave them no cause for concern.

He suddenly turned violent as the vehicle was in the fast lane at Scammonden.

Hartley managed to undo his seat belt and reached across to Det Con Shelton as she drove the Vauxhall Corsa and struck her with the handcuffs.

Mr Ritchie said: “He grabbed her head and forced it to the side of the car then hit her.

“She was struggling to see to drive the car.

“The defendant punched her and attempted to put his hand over her eyes. He tried to put his fingers in to her eyes and gouge her.”

Mr Ritchie said Hartley was “screaming and roaring” as the officer struggled to control the vehicle.

Det Con Shelton managed to steer the vehicle onto the hard shoulder and bring it to a stop.

Hartley then attacked Det Con MacFarlane who was trapped on the back seat with him.

Mr Ritchie said: “The defendant was still screaming and growling and gnawed on his arm.”

The prosecutor said he then spat a piece of flesh at Det Con Shelton.

She pleaded with him not to kill her colleague before Hartley suddenly stopped being violent and became unresponsive.

Other officers then arrived at the scene.

The court heard both officers spent months off work after the incident due to their injuries and were still receiving counselling to cope with the trauma.

Det Con MacFarlane also had to have have surgery on his arm and has been left with a permanent scar.

He had to undergo blood tests as a HIV testing kit had been found at Hartley’s home, causing him to fear he had been infected.

More than 2,000 indecent images of children were found on the computer equipment seized from his home.

Hartley pleaded guilty to to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, two offences of attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm with intent and eight offences relating to the possession of indecent images.

He has previous conviction for child sex offences.

Det Con Shelton read a victim impact statement to the court.

She said: “I no longer sleep. I can only see the evil face that tried to kill me…coming towards me like a caged animal.

“It was the worst day of my life and I thought it would be the last day of my life.

“I have been a police officer for 20 years and I did not know how hard it was to be a victim of crime.

“I begged for my life that awful day and Hartley ignored me.

“In my head I said goodbye to my three beautiful daughters.

“I wonder what would have happened if Hartley had achieved in taking over the controls that day. It could have been pure carnage.”

Det Con MacFarlane told the court: “The thought of how easily our lives could have ended that day is frightening.”

Hartley was jailed for 14 years

Judge James Spencer, QC, said: “It is a mercy that there was not some catastrophe. You behaved like an animal.”

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