A BARGOED man who attacked an ambulance crew in Torbay after taking a cannabis substitute has been jailed after a judge warned of the dangers of so called legal highs.
Martin Weston left 63-year-old paramedic Vernon Watkin with a dislocated jaw after suffering a psychotic episode on his way to hospital caused by smoking a substance called Pandora’s Box.
A Judge called on the Government to ban the substance, which is sold as a herbal substitute for cannabis and has been linked to a spate of violent reactions in users all over Britain.
Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, also warned users of legal highs they risk jail if the substances they take lead to them breaking the law.
Weston was on holiday in Torbay from Wales when he went to a so-called head shop because he was running out of cannabis and wanted an alternative.
He smoked it in his car with his wife and children sat beside and behind him and became so ill an ambulance was called.
The crew loaded him onto a stretcher but he became deranged while en route to hospital and lashed out at Mr Watkin, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Father-of-three Weston, aged 38, of Henry Street, Bargoed, admitted causing actual bodily harm to Mr Watkin and common assault on ambulance driver Gemma Southcott.
He was jailed for 12 months. The judge told him:”I am told Pandora’s Box causes agitation, paranoia, increased heart rate, altered consciousness and vomiting.
“I can only hope the Government will make it illegal sooner rather than later and the shop will have the sense to stop profiting from selling a substance that has such serious effects.
“It may be what you did was out of character and as a result of taking this legal high but it is not the same as having a drink spiked by someone else. You bought it and took it voluntarily.
“As a matter of public policy people who do that without regard to the risks they run must be sentenced with regard to the consequences their behaviour has on others.
“It is important those who take this sort of drug should be well aware of the risks they run and shops will have the sense to stop selling it.”
Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said the ambulance was called to Barton Hill Road, Torquay at teatime on October 3 last year and found Weston in a car where he was vomiting uncontrollably.
He said:”The crew were told he had smoked a legal high called Pandora’s Box which caused him to become agitated. A decision was made to transfer him to Torbay Hospital.
“During the journey he got off the stretcher and told Mr Watkin he was going to rip his head off. He became extremely aggressive and forced his arm to his throat before punching him twice on the jaw.”
Mr Richings said Weston refused to allow Mr Watkin to escape and he only got out with the help of the driver who stopped and opened the back door.
Weston kicked the driver and had to be restrained by both crew from running into traffic. Police eventually arrived and he told them he had no recollection of the incident.
The victim returned to work the next day despite suffering a double dislocation of the jaw. He made an impact statement saying it was the worst assault he had experienced in 31 years in the job.
He said:”It was the most horrific moment of my working life. I cannot forget having his deranged eyes in my face. If had not been for my colleague mu injuries would have been even graver.
“I was back at work 24 hours later because I knew I had to get back but it was two weeks before I got my confidence back.”
Miss Ceylan Bayram, defending, said Weston bought the legal high at the Head Shop in Torquay as an alternative to cannabis and it had caused a psychotic episode.
She said:”He is incredibly apologetic and describes Mr Watkin as a hero and asks me to thank him for stopping him from running into the road.”