‘I’m the hardest man’ claimed brute to off-duty cop before dancefloor attack

A crook who claimed he was the hardest man in his town launched an unprovoked violent assault on an off-duty police officer. Jason Turnbull was caught on CCTV and the 40-year-old has been caged for over four years this week.

Turnbull, approached the officer whilst he was dancing and enjoying his night off in the pub on December 11 last year. Turnbull was caught talking to the officer before, “taking a boxer’s stance” and throwing eight or nine punches to his face. The victim fell back to the floor; Turnbull then punched his friend.

This week a court heard that other drinkers on the dance floor shouted at Turnbull and chased him away. The off-duty police officer said Turnbull told him: “I’m the hardest man in Stockton” before turning away to dance; then approaching him again and attacking him.

On Wednesday, Turnbull, through his lawyer Andrew Turton, said that he had not gone out that night looking for trouble or to punch anyone. Mr Turnbull, from Stockton, said his client was, “extremely remorseful” and that he had offered character references to the court, which testified that he was a, “kind-hearted, hard working, caring and inspirational man.”

The court heard that the off-duty officer had suffered a fracture to his eye socket and to his jaw, reported Teesside Live. He has since undergone surgery to have plates fitted in his face, but the area around his mouth remains numb; he feels constant pressure in the inside of his mouth and his eye socket.

In a statement, the officer said that he had built a career helping people, and that he had had to take time off work with his injuries: “I’ve never been assaulted with malice and aggression for no reason. I have flashbacks and wake up in the night wondering why it happened.” The officer said he may never get feeling back in his face again; that there is a chance the areas around his injuries will stay numb.

Prosecutor Jenny Hague said that police were able to identify Turnbull from the club’s CCTV footage, but that he refused to answer questions about the incident after he was arrested.

Turnbull, of Ickworth Court in Ingleby Barwick, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He has 10 previous convictions for 21 offences, which include an assault in 2006, where he headbutted a man who tackled him in a football match on Acklam Road. He was sentenced to over ten years in prison for drugs offences in 2014, and was under licence after being released, when he committed his latest offence.

Mr Turton said that his client is adamant that he didn’t claim that he was, “the hardest man in Stockton” as he was born in Middlesbrough and considers himself to be a Middlesbrough man.

Turnbull’s partner listened from the public gallery as the judge turned to sentencing. Turnbull appeared in court via video link from HMP Leeds.

Judge Paul Watson told Turnbull: “The off-duty officer was out enjoying himself and having a good time with friends when he had the misfortune of meeting you. We will perhaps never know what words were exchanged between you both.

“But you were belligerent and aggressive in your manner towards him. Without any provocation, you punched him. These were punches delivered by a powerfully-built man, taking the officer by surprise. He was left with a fractured jaw and eye socket and his numbness may be permanent. However, you eventually pleaded guilty and I accept your remorse as genuine.”

The judge sentenced Turnbull to four years and three months in prison.

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