Welsh politician guilty of drunken assault

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Indy Politics

A drunken politician who claimed a head injury unknowingly caused him to assault paramedics sent to his aid was found guilty of all charges today.

Mick Bates, 62, was simply "one over the eight" with drink, a district judge concluded.

The veteran Liberal Democrat Welsh Assembly Member (AM), who represents Montgomeryshire, had denied three charges of assault by beating during a lengthy trial.

Bates claimed the rare defence of automatism which amounted to neither remembering nor being responsible for his actions.

Today he was ordered to pay a total of £5,490 in fines, costs and compensation to his three victims after a judge concluded he was simply "very drunk".

He paid off the amount immediately.

Bates injured his head when he took a 360-degree tumble down a staircase at Charlstons restaurant in Cardiff in the early hours of January 20.

He was more than three times over the legal alcohol limit for a driver at the time after a lengthy evening out drinking.

A friend at the restaurant called the police, claiming Bates had been pushed by an unknown man, who has never been traced.

Paramedics were also called and described in court how the AM was drunk and abusive and had to be moved down the stairs on his buttocks to the ambulance.

Throughout his trial at Cardiff Magistrates' Court Bates insisted he had no memory of the assaults of which he was accused.

They included punching one paramedic in the stomach after he was put in an ambulance and grabbing another by the hands.

He was taken to the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, where he was also abusive and threatening to nursing staff.

District judge Bodfan Jenkins, sitting at the magistrates' court today, said trial evidence revealed 68 separate instances of conscious action on the part of Bates.

One alone would have been enough to defeat a defence of automatism.

"It is important for me to stress yet again in relation to these 68 responses, that I gleaned from the evidence, that not one of these is in dispute.

"I have to accept that all those things occurred."

He went on to define automatism as "a total loss of control".

He said: "On all the evidence in this case I have to say categorically that there is not sufficient evidence of automatism and that, I find, he was not concussed."

He added: "I am sure he was drunk, very drunk."

The evidence showed that as the evening wore on and he drunk more alcohol it had a greater effect on him, the judge said.

"As the alcohol level increased the effect of that alcohol upon him became greater."

He said, to use an old-fashioned term, "this is a case of one over the eight".

The judge added: "The defendant had one too many and it tipped him over the edge."

He concluded: "This is a very regrettable conviction in relation to an otherwise excellent man of 62-years-of age. It is one blot."

Afterwards a Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "We are satisfied with the outcome of this case.

"The Welsh Ambulance Service has a policy of zero tolerance regarding violence and aggression towards its staff and will not tolerate any such acts.

"We will continue to support our staff, who face a difficult job on a daily basis, and where appropriate we will prosecute assailants and abusers without hesitation."

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "The CPS takes attacks on health professionals very seriously.

"Health service workers have challenging duties and they should be able to carry out their roles without fear of violence and abuse.

"A national agreement is in place between the CPS and NHS to ensure health workers do not accept this kind of abuse as an occupational hazard.

"The message must go out that crimes of this nature will not be tolerated and we will do everything we can to make sure offenders are brought to justice."