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Drink-driver Steven Lambkin jailed for trying to strangle police officer in Ash Tree Lane, Chatham

A police officer feared for her life when a crazed driver grabbed her by the throat and tried to strangle her, a court heard.

PC Catherine Rutter later told of feeling “incredibly helpless” as Steven Lambkin tightened his grip.

Another officer came to her rescue, punching the drunk 36-year-old builder in the face three times to make him release her.

Steven Lambkin. Picture: Kent Police.
Steven Lambkin. Picture: Kent Police.

Maidstone Crown Court heard PC Rutter and PC Alexander Guise had stopped Lambkin in Ash Tree Lane in Chatham at about 10pm on October 27 last year because of his erratic driving.

It later emerged he had drunk six pints of beer at a social club in Gillingham.

The officers did not have a breathalyser kit and had to radio for one. As Lambkin got out his door hit the leg of one of the officers.

Prosecutor Peter Forbes said PC Guise grabbed 36-year-old Lambkin’s arm as it was a busy, poorly lit road and he feared for his safety.

"While being strangled I felt incredibly helpless and that this would be my last shift, and I would not survive" - PC Catherine Rutter

But Lambkin resisted and started dragging the officer into the road, telling him: “I might still commit suicide but I if I am going to die I am taking you with me.”

Both officers tried to restrain him. One of them pressed a panic button to summon help.

Two officers used a PAVA spray in Lambkin’s eyes with no apparent effect.

“The defendant was gaining control and PC Rutter was on the ground,” said Mr Forbes. “He proceeded to put his hands around her neck.”

Ash Tree Lane in Chatham. Picture: Google.
Ash Tree Lane in Chatham. Picture: Google.

She later described him squeezing her neck and gripping her “tighter and tighter”. PC Guise punched Lambkin to force him to let go as PC Rutter coughed and spluttered.

She said in a statement: “While being strangled I felt incredibly helpless and that this would be my last shift, and I would not survive. I couldn’t believe somebody had decided to take my life.”

Lambkin, of Churchill Avenue, Chatham, admitted attempting to cause grievous bodily harm and common assault.

Jailing him for 15 months, Judge Adele Williams told Lambkin: “You were drunk and when police officers tried to stop you because of your erratic driving you behaved in a truly appalling and grossly irresponsible way.”

Judge Adele Williams
Judge Adele Williams

The judge said Lambkin’s behaviour was in stark contrast to the character references she had read.

“I accept you have shown remorse and some insight into your offending, but these offences are aggravated by the fact these were police officers doing no more than their duty,” she added.

Tom Stern, defending, said the offence was exceptional and “in no small sense an aberration”.

The former Robert Napier School pupil, who had no previous convictions, said of his victims: “They must have been petrified. They were only doing their job. They should not have had to put up with that.”

Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

After the hearing, investigating officer Detective Constable Kati Edge said: "Lambkin was drunk and volatile, choosing to put others at risk by driving under the influence and cause fear and violence by attacking our officers.

"Every day officers from Kent Police go into unpredictable, challenging, and often volatile situations, however, being attacked in any way or injured will never be accepted as being part of the job.

"Lambkin will now serve a custodial sentence and I hope he uses the time to change his unacceptable behaviour."

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