After assaulting his teen partner, Damien Cripps bit a police officer’s arm while being wrestled into a patrol car and continued trying to bite it as he was driven back to the station.
The incident was the result of a tumultuous arrest for police which, saddled with “kicking and screaming”, had seen Cripps attempt to flee on foot, jumping into a stream and injuring himself, before trying to roll himself back into the water after cuffs had been put on him.
The 24-year-old appeared in the Hamilton District Court for sentencing on multiple charges including injuring with reckless disregard, assaulting a person in a family relationship, escaping police custody, and resisting arrest on Monday.
Cripps had been in a “volatile” relationship with a teenager with an eight-year age gap.
On September 3, last year, he rode his bike to the victim’s supported housing while in an “erratic state”, banging on her door, and continuing to push her after she came outside.
He grabbed her by the throat and smashed an item on the ground, before eventually calming down, but firing up after a social worker tried to intervene.
Cripps was at the Rapurapu Reserve about 11am on September 17 when police arrested him for the earlier assault, however, he fled on foot
He was caught by the officer and handcuffed, before he jumped free into a stream where he injured himself. He was again caught by police but remained agitated and tried to roll himself into the stream before being put in the patrol car.
There, he began “violently” kicking and screaming and slamming his head into the window and kicking out at police.
After being put in the car, he again tried to escape and bent forward and bit the officer’s right forearm with a lot of force; enough to break the skin and draw blood.
On the drive to the police station, Cripps continued to attempt to bite the officers and had to be physically restrained.
Cripps’ counsel, Kerry Hadaway, said if he didn’t take his ADHD medication he would have an “explosive temper”.
“The offending does speak of a young man, 24, who can’t control himself,” adding that his mother spoke of him having the “brain of a 17-year-old”, she said.
“Mr Cripps is someone who should be taking his ADHD medication.”
She urged Judge Philip Crayton to issue a small discount given his psychological issues, which he agreed to.
Cripps told a pre-sentence report writer that he put his offending down to his jealousy and abuse of methamphetamine, along with a lack of sleep.
“You are not someone who wants to be restricted in how you live... but the reality is ADHD does not make someone violent.
“Here, the triggering aspect of your life is the abuse of methamphetamine,” Judge Crayton told him.
Although he’d expressed remorse, Judge Crayton wasn’t convinced it was genuine.
“I do hope that you intend to try and stay on your medication and become less anti-social ... we will all be better off for it.”
As for the biting, that came with a “high risk of infection” and labelled it an “utterly cowardly act”.
Cripps was jailed for 13 months and one week and disqualified from driving for 12 months, after admitting his fourth driving while disqualified charge.
Belinda Feek is an Open Justice reporter based in Waikato. She has worked at NZME for nine years and been a journalist for 20.
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