Garfield Silburn Jr. was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on Monday for assaulting a police officer who may lose sight in his right eye as a result.
Defense attorney Crister Brady said Silburn never intended to cause injuries; he was only determined to escape being arrested because he considered he had not committed any crime.
The incident occurred in Prospect during daylight hours on May 17, when officers responded to a report of a possible burglary. They located a car that had been described in connection with the incident and Silburn was nearby, washing himself with a garden hose.
Mr. Brady said the defendant’s explanation was that he had gone to a house only because his car had broken down, but no one was around. The officers’ allegation was that he had broken into the premises and stolen something. Silburn, 21, panicked at the thought of going back to prison, the attorney explained.
Justice Charles Quin summarized the assault after hearing submissions last week, commenting that it was almost four different assaults.
Told he was under arrest, Silburn punched the male officer in the face several times. When the officer fell to the ground, Silburn could have stopped, the judge noted. When the female officer present attempted to intervene, he kicked her in the stomach. Silburn then stomped on the officer’s chest. He then began kicking the officer in the head.
The officer on the ground caught hold of Silburn’s foot and the defendant also fell. Instead of stopping, he began to choke the male officer until he started to lose consciousness. The female officer hit Silburn with her handheld radio.
When help arrived, the officers were taken to hospital. The woman officer suffered pain in her stomach and left hand, which was swollen.
The male officer complained of blurred vision. Having been treated previously for a detached retina, he was sent overseas and had two operations.
At present he does not see out of his right eye and is scheduled to have another operation. The prognosis was “uncertain at best, pessimistic at worst,” Justice Quin said Monday.
The officer’s eye had been injured previously and he was therefore more vulnerable, but the defense accepted that Silburn had to “take his victim as he finds him.”
Justice Quin called the assault a violent attack of a sustained nature, which warranted a 12-year starting point. He said it warranted an upward adjustment because it was an assault on an officer who was only carrying out his duty.
Police are committed to looking after people’s safety and their property, he commented. This assault struck at the rule of law and should shock all law-abiding citizens, he declared. It may have started out as an attempt to resist arrest but Silburn ended up almost killing the officer, the judge indicated.
The defendant had several previous convictions for violence, including robbery. The judge found that the appropriate sentence for a violent assault on a police officer in the execution of his duty was 15 years. With one-third off for the guilty plea, the sentence was 10 years.
The assault of the female officer was met with a two-year sentence, to be served concurrently.
“Police officers do a wonderful job in this country and they deserve to be supported, not assaulted,” Justice Quin concluded.