A Sauchie man admits nearly drowning a PC near Alloa

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A policewoman feared she would die after a "lunatic" held her face down in water after she responded to a call about vandalism in Clackmannanshire.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard PC Angela Melia was grabbed by James Brand as he struggled with officers at Gartmorn dam, near Alloa.

Brand admitted assaulting the police officer to her injury and the danger of her life.

The judge, Lord Brailsford, deferred sentence and remanded him in custody.

The court heard PC Melia was grabbed by the 23-year-old and then pulled down, ending pushing her face in the water.

The officer tried to pull her head out but realised she could not because her attacker was holding her.

'Struggling and thrashing'

Advocate depute Iain McSporran told the High Court in Edinburgh: "She began to panic and inhaled water and silt."

Start Quote

The danger caused to PC Melia's life by being held face down into water is self-evident”

End Quote Iain McSporran Advocate depute

"The sandy floor of the dam made it difficult for her to get a secure hand or foot hold the better to break free and witnesses saw her struggling and thrashing about in an effort to break free from the accused's hold."

Her colleague PC Mark Ormesher tried to free her and managed to push Brand backwards into the water before spraying him with CS gas.

The prosecutor said: "The danger caused to PC Melia's life by being held face down into water is self-evident."

"The evidence suggests that PC Melia's face was immersed for a very few seconds, but she is quite clear that she believed she would die when it was immediately obvious that the accused was intent on forcibly holding her head in the water."

Mr McSporran said the attack had had lasting effects on the officer: "She became agoraphobic, did not leave her house for two weeks and was unable to return to work for five weeks."

"She suffered difficulty sleeping, had nightmares and has been prescribed medication to deal with those symptoms."

Mr McSporran added her self-confidence has been affected and "she does not believe that she will ever get over the incident."

Plea accepted

Brand, from Sauchie in Clackmannanshire, was originally charged with attempted murder following the attack on 1 July this year.

But on Wednesday the Crown accepted his guilty plea to assaulting PC Melia, 33, to her injury and the danger of her life by seizing her by clothing, causing her to fall into the dam and forcibly holding her head in the water.

He also pled guilty to assaulting, resisting, obstructing, molesting and hindering Central Scotland police officers by struggling and fighting with them.

He committed the offences after being granted bail at Alloa Sheriff Court on 7 June and 2 December last year. He also had a sentence deferred at the time for vandalism.

The judge, Lord Brailsford, deferred sentence for the preparation of a background report and remanded Brand in custody.

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