Addict jailed for attempted murder of policewoman: Screwdriver attack man's family scream abuse in court

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The Independent Online
A HEROIN addict found guilty of the attempted murder of a policewoman was jailed for 15 years yesterday.

Stephen Doyle, 29, stabbed PC Leslie Harrison in the heart with a screwdriver as he fled from the scene of an attempted burglary in Wavertree, Liverpool, on the night of 27 December, 1992. Doyle claimed that PC Harrison must have accidentally impaled herself on it.

Preston Crown Court was told how at the scene Doyle was 'like a maniac with the strength of 10 men' as he struggled with four officers, including PC Harrison. She has little hope of returning to duty. The other three underwent counselling and one, a constable with 22 years' service, left the force after receiving treatment in a psychiatric hospital.

There were angry scenes in the courtroom as the jury returned its unanimous verdict on the attempted murder charge, denied by Doyle. Members of his family screamed abuse at the police and had to be ushered from the court room by officers.

Doyle, of Henglers Close, Everton, Liverpool, had to be led down the steps from the dock while calm was restored. When he was sentenced, his supporters screamed abuse at the jury before being ejected. Three female jurors wept.

On Wednesday he was found guilty of attempting to wound four police officers and a taxi driver while he was being pursued, attempted burglary and aggravated vehicle- taking. The taxi driver, who led police to Doyle after his initial escape, was awarded pounds 500 out of public funds for his bravery.

The judge, Mrs Justice Smith, told Doyle: 'This was a very determined and very violent attack on a police officer in the execution of her duty. Were it not for a combination of great good luck and superb medical treatment, she would have lost her life.'

In addition to 15 years' imprisonment for attempted murder, Doyle - who had a long list of previous convictions - received a string of prison sentences on the other charges, to run concurrently.

PC Harrison said later: 'I think the jury came to the right decision. I couldn't have hoped for a better sentence. Stephen Doyle is a very dangerous man and it is just and right that he should be off the streets so that this kind of attack does not happen to anyone else. I want now to look to the future. My serious injuries, from which I am far from fully recovered, make that future uncertain.'

She added: 'I hope that the publicity that this case has attracted will help highlight the need for more and better protection for police officers against violent attack.'

PC Harrison had been a victim of violence on three previous occasions. Relatives said she wanted to return to her job but she still found herself breathless after a few minutes' exertion. During the operation to save her life, she had her entire volume of blood changed.

Before the incident, Doyle had twice been given bail on charges relating to assaults on police officers. A senior officer described him as a 'walking timebomb'. He lived with his mother and his two children, after his partner had left him. He had never registered as a drug addict because he was afraid his children would be taken from him.