Denny offender tried to choke female cop unconscious

A female police officer struggled to breathe and feared she would pass out as a violent thug tightened his choke hold on her.

By Court Reporter
Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 9:23 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 10:34 am

John McLachlan (41), from Denny, left the officer struggling for breath and barely able to speak.

The terrifying attack happened after police were called to flats in Calder Place, Hallglen following reports McLachlan had been with a knife. They found him at around 8pm in a common close and he became “immediately hostile”.

Appearing on a video link from custody at Falkirk Sheriff Court yesterday, McLachlan had admitted the assault he committed on January 10 and also pled guilty to possessing a knife in public and threatening behaviour.

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The female police officer was caught in a choke hold by the offender

Procurator fiscal depute Michael Maguire said: "He was intoxicated, swearing, and refusing to disclose his name. He was in possession of a large glass Buckfast bottle which he was gripping tightly and swinging slightly while shouting and acting aggressively."

Clenching his other hand in a fist and tensing his arms and shoulders, McLachlan told the female police officer and her colleague he was going to go “plonko” on them.

Mr Maguire said: "Due to the accused's conduct towards them, his unpredictable behaviour, and a previous mention that he had been in possession of a knife, the officers took hold of him by the wrists."

He was told he was being arrested and the female officer began cautioning him.

Mr Maguire said she was holding McLachlan's left wrist, in which he still held the Buckfast bottle, while her colleague put a handcuff on his right wrist.

He said: "At this point he lunged towards her, headbutting her to the right side of her face. She told him to let go of the bottle and desist, while attempting to loosen his grip of it."

Eventually she managed to loosen his grip on the bottle, and she and her colleague began to try to put his left wrist in the handcuffs, but McLachlan managed to overpower them.

Mr Maguire said: "He placed his arm round her neck, putting her in a choke hold and starting to apply pressure to prevent her from breathing. He forced her to the ground with his body weight on top her her.

"She was struggling for breath."

Her colleague fought to release McLachlan's grip, while she managed to strike the offender in the face with her elbow.

Mr Maguire said: "She was struggling to breathe properly or speak and was in fear if the accused continued she would lose consciousness."

After several knee strikes to the accused's body and with the assistance of her colleague, she managed to break her head and neck free.

The officers eventually managed to pin McLachlan, who was still aggressively shouting, to the ground.

Summoned by the emergency button, which the female officer had managed to press, other officers arrived on the scene and McLachlan was placed in a police van.

He was taken to Falkirk Police Station where he told officers: "Youse are all just lucky I didn't have a certain object I had earlier."

He continued to act aggressively until he was placed in a police cell.

The female officer was left with redness and soreness to her neck, and several bruises.

When he was charged with police assault, McLachlan responded: "I was handled like a dog."

Steven Biggam, defence solicitor, said: “His record is appalling. He had been stabbed in the chest the night before and he took out his frustration and ire on the the police. Since he has been in prison he has embarked on a course of hairdressing, and that's the way he wants to go in the future.

"Until it was put on hold by the coronavirus situation, he had also started going to church."

Imposing the 32 month jail sentence, Sheriff Derek Hamilton told McLachlan: "No officer should be subjected to such violence during the course of their employment. You have a significant history of violence.

"Such matters have to be dealt with severely."