A Grinning yob who clubbed a young paramedic to the ground with a baseball bat as he responded to a 999 call was today beginning an eight-year jail term.
Lewis Westwood, 19, smirked in court as a judge at Preston Crown Court heard he fractured trainee James Steel’s skull with a savage flurry of blows before being fought off by a female colleague. The court was told Mr Steel stepped in to defend his crewmate and was battered to the ground, suffering injuries which have left him with hearing loss.
But, as the smirking thug who fractured his skull was sent to prison for eight years at Preston Crown Court after admitting grievous bodily harm, an ambulance boss confessed: “I thought I would be attending a funeral.”
Lewis Westwood, 19, showed no mercy as he clubbed the paramedic to the ground and then rained blows down on his head in a drink and drug fuelled frenzy.
The teenager first threatened Mr Steel’s female crewmate. But when the heroic 26-year-old stepped in to protect her he was smashed to the ground.
The woman colleague then came to his rescue, fighting off the attacker before lifting him into the ambulance and rushing him to hospital.
“My biggest dread is that one day I will attend a funeral of one of our own,” said Derek Cartwright North West Ambulance Director of Emergency Service. “We came pretty close that night.”
The court heard Westwood attacked the ambulance crew after they were called to his mother’s house in Hillbrook Road, Leyland, following reports of a woman having a panic attack.
Westwood produced the baseball bat out of his trousers and started “twirling” it around his head, making threatening gestures towards the paramedics.
When Mr Steel stepped in to put some distance between Westwood and his colleague he was struck on the side of the head. Westwood continued the attack when Mr Steel was on the ground.
Judge Beverley Lunt, sentencing, told Westwood: “It is obvious you could have killed him but did that bring you to your senses? No, it did not.”
Westwood, who was said to have anger problems as a result of a troubled upbringing, had been drinking at a friend’s baby’s christening and had also taken cocaine.
The court heard in his intoxicated state he believed the paramedics were going to remove his own child from his partner and launched the savage attack.
The court was told Westwood now felt “remorse and shame” at his actions.
The assault was one of 341 attacks on paramedics since April 2013, a figure which represents a 63 per cent increase on the previous year.
Mr Steel, described by colleagues as a “hard working and career minded trainee paramedic” has now returned to work where it is understood he wishes to complete his training.
Mr Cartwright added: “I fear that one day I’ll take that phone call. The call that says one of our staff has been killed. This could have been the one. And I feel disgusted and angry by the whole thing.
“It’s a sad fact that we are becoming almost used to hearing of our staff being either verbally or physically assaulted. But this is one of the worst cases I have come across in my 30 years’ service.
“The trust is delighted with this sentence and hopes it sends out a clear message that if you assault an ambulance crew, you face the real possibility of going to prison.
“The attack launched on this individual could so easily have had a fatal outcome and I must offer my praise to his crew mate who acted quickly in getting her colleague out of danger and into hospital. They were both heroes.
“Our staff go to work every day to help people and for one of them to end up with a fractured skull is abhorrent.”