Racist lout with history of assaulting emergency workers walks free after spitting on PC’s face

Gary Devine pictured outside of North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court. Credit to Photo /Newcastle Chronicle

Chronicle Live
By Sara Nichol

A violent racist with a history of assaulting emergency workers has avoided jail after spitting in a police constable’s face.

Gary Devine, who has previous convictions for attacking police and spitting on paramedics, also threatened housing officers with a walking stick during his latest offending spree. A court heard that the drunk lout also shouted vile racist abuse at his neighbours and the constable.

The 52-year-old, formerly of Myrtle Grove, in Wallsend, but now living on Brighton Grove, in Fenham, appeared before magistrates in North Tyneside earlier this year and pleaded not guilty to a public order offence, two racially-aggravated public order offences and assaulting an emergency worker. The case was listed for trial last month but he failed to show and was convicted in his absence.

This week, Devine was back in the same court for sentence and narrowly avoided being locked-up. Instead, he was given a 44-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Lesley Burgess, prosecuting, said Devine had a number of past convictions for assaulting emergency workers, including spitting on two paramedics in 2020 and spitting on a police officer in 2022. On this occasion, Devine’s criminal outburst started on June 16 this year when two housing officers attended his address in Wallsend.

Ms Burgess continued: “The defendant was sitting in the living room wearing tracksuit bottoms but no top. He was consuming alcohol and has straight away started making threats to both support workers. One comment was “you’re a lucky c*** because, if you had come here this morning, I would have stabbed you at the door”.

“The workers could see a black handle on the settee but couldn’t see if it was bladed. The defendant continued to threaten them. They were in the property for about 20 minutes. They say all they wanted to do was get outside. Once they were outside, the defendant comes out brandishing a walking stick. He said he was going to smash them across the face. They feared for their own safety.”

The court heard that Devine then walked back towards his home and, still brandishing the walking stick, shouted up to his neighbours “f*****g black c***s, I’m going to stick you as well”. Both victims left the scene and reported what had happened to the police.

The next day, officers attended Devine’s home and he was arrested but, while being walked to the police vehicle, he again shouted racist abuse at one of the constables. Ms Burgess added: “Once at Middle Engine Lane Police Station, the defendant spits in the officer’s face and it landed on his forehead.”

In a statement, the officer said: “It’s absolutely disgusting to be spat on, especially considering Covid-19 and other diseases. Devine’s behaviour throughout was unacceptable and it is disgusting having to remove spit from my face.”

John Kirkham, defending, said Devine had mental health issues and a drink problem but had made positive steps in his life since moving out of Wallsend. He added: “Since this incident, he has reduced his drinking and there have been no further incidents or trouble of any kind.”

Sentencing him, District Judge Kate Meek warned Devine that if he offended again, he’d be jailed. She said: “There’s no argument whatsoever that this matter has crossed the custody threshold. I’m just persuaded to suspend your sentence as you have been out of trouble for six months, which, in light of your previous convictions, is a significant period of time for you. Your circumstances have also changed.”