Judo instructor who hurled police officer to the ground and attacked another trying to pepper spray him as they tried to arrest him for holding free outdoor children’s classes during Covid lockdown avoids jail
- Daniel Carr, 37, ‘took down’ two PCs as they tried to stop his lockdown judo class
- He admitted assaulting them and judge handed him 100-day community order
- She praised Carr for revealing mental health issues after mum’s cancer diagnosis
A martial arts instructor who ‘took down’ two policemen as they tried to arrest him for holding free outdoor judo classes for children during the Covid lockdown has avoided prison after a judge praised his ‘excellent’ courtroom plea for leniency.
Daniel Carr, 37, used his judo skills to throw one officer to the ground before striking another on the wrist who was about to pepper spray him in February 2021.
At the time both constables were trying to detain Carr after he arranged free classes for youngsters in a public park in Heywood, near Rochdale Greater Manchester to help with their ‘mental health wellbeing’ due to being confined to their homes during Tier 4 restrictions.
The officers were taken to hospital where PC Adnen Mehmood was found to have suffered a punctured right lung as result of him him hitting the ground. The other officer PC Mohammed Zeb had a day off sick and was placed on restricted duties for two weeks after he was left with ‘soreness, tenderness and swelling’ to his left wrist. Both officers have made full recoveries.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Carr, from Heywood who spent ten days in custody following his arrest faced up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to causing actual bodily harm and obstructing police.
Martial arts instructor Daniel Carr (pictured), from Greater Manchester, who ‘took down’ two policemen as they tried to arrest him for holding free outdoor judo classes for children during the Covid lockdown has avoided prison after his ‘excellent’ courtroom plea for leniency
Daniel Carr, 37, used his judo skills to throw one officer to the ground before striking another on the wrist who was about to pepper spray him in February 2021. Pictured: Judo instructor Daniel Carr (right) performing a martial arts move during a session
But he was given a 12-month community order and was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work after he gave an impassioned speech in which he apologised for the injuries caused to the officers but said he was merely ‘helping people struggling with the effects of lockdown.’
The court heard all participants in the class were standing two metres apart.
Carr organised the martial arts at Queens Park in Heywood. But Covid restrictions in place at the time in February 2021 meant that it was illegal to organise or attend gatherings and meetings with anyone outside your household or support bubble.
But prosecutor Craig MacGregor said: ‘He [Carr] wanted to be able to protest about being able to protest about the Covid regulations. Police became aware on social media about those gatherings and on February 4 he received a “cease and desist” letter which said he can be fined for prohibited behavior.
‘He was also served with a directive from Rochdale Borough Council under the health protection regulations, telling him not to have this protest.
‘He would say it was to help people’s health and wellbeing and they would have been 2m apart but the participants would still have to give each other succour.
‘He also said was offering kids martial arts lessons from 1pm but in brackets saying: “If I have not been arrested.”
‘We say that is teasing and goading of the officers. He had already been arrested previously and told to go home and there is an element of the “I won’t have anyone tell me what to do” mentality.’
Representing himself Carr (pictured outside Minshull Street Crown Court) denied throwing a punch at PC Zeb and said: ‘My intention that day was to help people struggling with the effects of lockdown, myself amongst them, and to offer free martial arts lessons to kids who may have been struggling’
Carr organised the martial arts at Queens Park in Heywood (pictured). But Covid restrictions in place at the time in February 2021 meant that it was illegal to organise or attend gatherings and meetings with anyone outside your household or support bubble
Mr MacGregor said that the event had not taken account of any of the other people using the park who wanted to follow the Tier 4 restrictions and added: ‘On February 27 at about 12 o’clock people started to gather. The defendant tried to give help to people. At the bandstand there was tea and coffee and martial arts lessons.
‘At 12.40pm as the gathering got larger police tried to break things up. PC Zebb and PC Mehmood told the defendant to leave the park, he being the organiser.
‘He started to walk off about 300 yards from the bandstand, but then changed direction to try and frustrate what the police officers were trying to do. It got to the stage where PC Mehmood decided he had to arrest the defendant but he was thrown to the floor twice.
‘PC Zebb deployed his Parva spray but during the scuffle that ensued was punched on his left wrist. He was left with some soreness, tenderness and swelling. PC Mehmood has slightly more serious injuries and they both went to Fairfield Hospital.
‘PC Mehmood suffered right shoulder pain and reduced mobility and there was a soft tissue injury with an X-ray showing there was a puncture to the right lung, an apical pneumothorax, but there were no associated rib fractures. Perhaps it was the force in which he was taken to the ground that caused it. Luckily, that punctured lung healed without further medical intervention in a short period of time.
‘PC Zebb had two trips to the hospital and had to take a day off work, was on restricted office duties for a couple of weeks which had an effect on the neighbourhood police team. This offence was committed against an emergency worker acting in the exercise of his functions.’
Carr spent 10 days in custody following his initial arrest and 261 days on a curfew while on bail and was originally charged with causing grievous bodily harm.
Representing himself Carr denied throwing a punch at PC Zeb and said: ‘My intention that day was to help people struggling with the effects of lockdown, myself amongst them, and to offer free martial arts lessons to kids who may have been struggling, something I am trained and qualified to do, and something I had been doing for some years before lockdown.
‘I still believe what I was doing or trying to do was the right thing to do, however maybe in the wrong way. During a very difficult time due to isolation and the news a few weeks earlier that my mother had been diagnosed with cancer and was going through radiotherapy I wasn’t thinking 100% clearly.
‘I have always done what I believe is the right thing to do, I have made mistakes and strayed from the path at times, but I’ve always stood up and taken responsibility for my mistakes. Allowing myself to assault a police officer trying to arrest me however unlawful I perceived that arrest to be, was wrong, resulting in an officer being hurt, causing stress and upset to his family.
‘It put stress and pressure on my family at a time when they had enough to deal with. It undermined any good I was trying to do and caused me to lose the judo club l had set up and my job, not to mention friendships and the respect many people in the community had for me.’
He added: ‘This was all set in motion by how I reacted that day, to which I feel is in no way representative of who I am or who I want to be. My reaction that day was completely instinctive with the sole intention of escaping what I perceived at the time to be a threat, partly influenced by my emotional mental state, partly by my righteous indignation and partly by my pride, to which I am ashamed, embarrassed and deeply sorry for any pain or distress I may have caused.’
At Minshull Street Crown Court (pictured) in Manchester, sentencing Judge Angela Nield told Carr he had delivered an ‘excellent speech in mitigation’ and said he had expressed himself in ‘a careful and impressive manner’ as she handed him a 12-month community order and ordered him to complete 100 hours of unpaid work
Sentencing Judge Angela Nield told Carr he had delivered an ‘excellent speech in mitigation’ and said he had expressed himself in ‘a careful and impressive manner’. She also made no order for compensation for the two PCs.
She told Carr: ‘Your actions were affected by your own mental state at the time. You were understandably in distress at your mother’s recent diagnosis which compounded your own difficulties and the restrictions that which you were struggling with significantly.’
At an earlier hearing Carr was fined £2,000 for breaching Covid restrictions over the judo classes and was also ordered to pay 1,960 court costs and a £200 victim surcharge.
At the time Mark Widdup, director of neighbourhoods for Rochdale council, said: ‘The actions of Mr Carr were not only a breach of the national regulations that were in place at the time, they were also an affront to the majority of people who made great personal sacrifices in order to help protect others from a virus that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people in our borough.’
‘Although the risks of transmission were generally considered to be lower outdoors compared to indoors, there were still significant risks of transmission with people congregating in large numbers and being closer than two metres from each other. Mr Carr’s actions demonstrated a complete disregard for the legislation and his selfish actions put others at risk.’
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