A JUDGE'S decision to allow a violent criminal an opportunity to avoid jail for a fight that left two police officers injured has been criticised by their federation.

Aaron Gleed, who has a lengthy record of convictions including assault, was told by Judge Robert Pawson at Swindon Crown Court that sentence would be deferred for six months and he would not be jailed if he remained in work and out of trouble.

Late morning shoppers looked on in horror as Aaron Gleed hurled chairs about during a drink and drug fuelled outburst in the town centre. When police arrived he swore and yelled: "Here’s the coppers: let’s have it," as he turned on them, leaving one with a dislocated thumb.

After the hearing Insp Mark Andrews of the Police Federation said: “I find Judge Pawson’s sentence a further demonstration of the disregard the judicial system appears to have for the emergency services.

"The Federation worked hard to convince politicians to push forward with the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 which strengthened the available sentences for people who showed the willingness to assault those who are merely trying to protect and safe guard the public.

"Judges and magistrates need to recognise an assault on the emergency services is an assault on the community and issue the most severe penalty available under this and other legislation. Only then will be see a reduction in this type of offence”.

Philip Warren, prosecuting said Street Team supervisor Kevin Saunders was called to the fountain crossroads at the bottom of Regent Street on November 17, 2017 when Gleed was in a fracas with another man.

After as number of punches were thrown Gleed moved on to Bridge Street where CCTV picked up footage of him.

He said Gleed picked up chairs from a chip shop and threw them at the man he had been fighting. Fearing for the safety of members of the public Mr Saunders and colleague Tom Griffiths stepped in to try and break up the spat. The Street Team workers managed to stop the violence so the man being attacked could get away. “By this time the police arrived, Mr Gleed’s response was to challenge them to fight. He, to use the parlance, kicked off,” Mr Warren said. He resisted arrest. PC Dan Travis was struck in the face by Gleed’s fist or elbow as the yob swore and snarled: ‘It’s taken loads of you."

The officer then suffered a dislocated thumb and one of his colleagues a grazed face as they arrested him. While they grappled, Gleed's friend Jake Morgan tried to stop them, then fled but was tripped and arrested.

Gleed, formerly of Frobisher Drive, but now of Dowell Court, Faringdon, and Morgan, of The Rectangle, Tadpole Gardens, admitted affray. Emma Handslip, for Gleed, said he had been drinking and taking cocaine before the incident. In the 16 months since then he had not been in trouble, which is the longest period since he was 17. He was living with his pregnant girlfriend and working six days a week.

Judge Pawson said: “It probably didn’t mean much to you but it most certainly did to children walking past."

“Police officers were injured in the course of your arrest. You started matters. You were on any view the prime mover. You were intoxicated on both alcohol and cocaine.”

He said he would defer sentence for six months and not jail him if he remained in work and out of trouble. Morgan, who he said played a lesser role and initially tried to stop violence, was given a six month term suspended for 18 months with 75 hours of unpaid work, 10 days rehabilitation activity requirement and a thinking skills programme.