A CUSTODY sergeant had to radio for help after a prisoner tried to throttle him in a sudden attack.

Ryan Mills launched the assault from his cell, shouting and screaming as he hurled himself at Sgt Martin Alvis, grabbed the officer's shirt and twisted it round his neck.

The 23-year-old from Churchill Estate, Tisbury, had been arrested following a domestic incident at a house in Salisbury on December 17.

He was in the custody suite at Melksham Police Station where Sgt Alvis, who used to lead the neighbourhood policing teams at Royal Wootton Bassett and Malmesbury, was on duty.

The officer later said: “I have over 31 years of service for Wiltshire Police and this incident is one of the very few where I have felt truly vulnerable.”

Salisbury Magistrates Court heard Sgt Alvis had gone into the cell because Mills has been covering up the CCTV with his mattress. As soon as he entered the room and removed the mattress the prisoner lunged forward violently.

“He then violently grabbed hold of my shirt with both hands and with considerable force pulled and twisted it around my neck making it hard to breathe and causing my movement to be restricted,” said the officer in his statement.

“I tried to push Mills away by pushing his head back. This had no effect as I was finding breathing and moving difficult.

The detention officers had hold of Mills but he still tried to make a grab for me and attempted to punch me. He was shouting and screaming at me but I had no idea what he was saying.

“We all fell to the floor and I heard my shirt rip. I can’t remember the sequence of events, but Mills bit me in my left arm causing intense pain and kicked me in the stomach causing me to become winded. I shouted: ‘Let go!’

“The pain in my arm was intense from the bite and I felt very vulnerable at this point as Mills still had hold of my shirt and I was still finding it hard to breathe.”

Eventually the police officers and detention officers managed to get the situation under control and the custody sergeant crawled away and used his radio to call for assistance.

He added: “The outburst of violence from Mills was completely unexpected as I had spoken to him earlier in the evening to inform him that his time in custody was coming to an end.”

The two detention officers who were assaulted suffered minor injuries.

Mills admitted assault causing actual bodily harm, two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and one of criminal damage.

He was given a 12-month community order and ordered to pay a total of £375 compensation to the officers, including £250 to Sgt Alvis.

After the hearing the officer said: I was surprised there was no suspended sentence at least. It was a particularly nasty experience.”

Insp Mark Calland, the Wiltshire Police lead for custody, said: “My staff, police officers and police staff are people, and committed public servants - not punchbags. They do not go to work to be assaulted or threatened.

“We must never lose sight of the fact that police officers, and all those who do an extraordinary role in protecting us, are ordinary people, with ordinary lives.

“We must never underestimate the impact that assaults can have not only on those who are assaulted but on their loved ones, and those around them.”