Police tasered mentally ill man after threats

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Police tasered a mentally ill man in his home after he threatened an officer with a picture hammer.

Richard Vernalls dropped to the floor and was handcuffed by officers who were answering his own 999 call in which he told police that “he wanted to kill somebody”.

Vernalls (37), of Princess Grove, Market Deeping, pleaded guilty to assaulting PC Daniel McCormack in the execution of his duty on September 24.

He sat in court with a community psychiatric nurse beside him.

Spalding magistrates on Thursday adjourned sentence to November 8 for a probation report.

Edward Johnson, prosecuting, said: “The charge is laid as an assault, ie fear of violence being deployed rather than a blow being struck at the officer.”

Mr Johnson said Vernalls appeared heavily intoxicated when police arrived.

He picked up a kitchen knife but immediately threw it to the floor when asked to put it down.

Mr Johnson said one of the officers managed to calm Vernalls down for a while, but he then picked up a claw hammer and was holding the claw to the top of his head.

One of the officers was concerned Vernalls might self-harm, drew his taser and “dotted” Vernalls.

The officer was three metres away from Vernalls and described the hammer being “gestured towards him in an aggressive manner”.

Solicitor Beris Brickles, mitigating, said Vernalls had previously been subject to a hospital order but was given no ongoing aftercare when he was released.

He said: “This was a cry for help. He is someone who has mental health issues and he’s had them for some time.”