Man jailed after pepper spraying police, delaying trains at Rugby Station, and climbing onto roof of house in town
An attention-seeker staged a protest by climbing onto the cage over the footbridge at Rugby railway station - causing the disruption of 43 train services at a cost of Â£2 million.
Despite being on bail for spraying police officers with illegal CS gas, Saul Linton was again granted bail and went on to stage a roof-top protest, hurling chunks of mortar at the police.
Linton (25) of Selside, Brownsover, Rugby, was jailed for a total of four years and 11 months by a judge at Warwick Crown Court after pleading guilty to a string of offences.
They included possessing a prohibited firearm, using a firearm with intent to resist arrest, assaulting police officers, obstructing the railway, causing a public nuisance, and theft.
Prosecutor Katie Fox said that in February last year police officers went to Linton’s home at 1.15 in the afternoon to arrest another person who was believed to be there.
Pc Chris Batchelder got no answer when he knocked the door, but when he opened it he heard the sound of an aerosol being sprayed and saw a mist coming towards him before the door was pushed shut.
As Pc Batchelder and other officers pushed their way in, Linton claimed: “I didn’t spray it at you, it was just a spray.”
Everyone in the house ended up with streaming eyes and a burning sensation in their mouths as the officers arrested Linton and one of the other men in the house.
Once they got him outside, Linton became very aggressive, telling them: “I’m not going in the car. Go on, try to get me in. I’m going to get you sorted. Your face won’t look the same.”
He struggled violently, kicking one female officer to her leg and injuring the hand of another, while both Pc Batchelder and another officer suffered effects from the CS spray.
When Linton was later interviewed he apologised for the injuries, but denied using the spray on the officers, saying someone had brought 200 canisters to the house, and that he had tested one of them inside.
He was granted bail, and on June 30 the police had a call to say there was a problem on the footbridge over the line at Rugby railway station.
They arrived to find Linton on top of the cage which covers the bridge, and when he was told to come down, he refused and said he was ‘staging a protest.’
Linton shuffled along the cage until he was directly over the track, where he refused to move, triggering a four-hour stand-off before the fire service cut a hole in the cage and he climbed through.
As a result of his actions the power to the line had to be cut, resulting in 43 trains being fully or partly cancelled, one of which had a medical emergency on it and an ambulance had to attend, and compensation payments for the disruption totalled £2 million.
Linton was again granted bail, and in November he stole a dirt track bike after pushing one of the owner’s friends off it while they were riding it on land near Avon Mill Lane, Rugby.
A few days later on November 7 he climbed onto the roof of a terraced house in Mill Road, opposite Rugby police station, and began shouting and refusing to come down.
Twelve officers were needed to keep the road clear and to divert traffic as Linton dislodged the chimney and hurled lumps of mortar at them, before coming down of his own accord after four hours.
When he was arrested and interviewed, Linton accepted he had got onto the roof of the house, but said he could not remember why he had done it.
Miss Fox added that at the time Linton, who had ‘a lengthy list of previous convictions,’ was subject to a suspended sentence of offences including aggravated vehicle taking.
Caroline Harris, defending, said: “The Mr Linton I met today is not the Mr Linton I was expecting. He has what appears to be a much greater insight into his behaviour than had previously been the case. He appreciates custody is inevitable.
“He describes himself as a career criminal. And he wants to stop. He says this time custody is going to make or break him.”
She said that the incidents on the railway bridge and the roof were reactions to difficulties Linton was having at the time following his decision to stop drinking.
Jailing Linton, the judge said the use of the CS gas on the officers was the most serious offence, for which he jailed Linton for three years and nine months.
“You were bailed, and on bail you carried out attention-seeking behaviour at Rugby railway station. Plainly this was planned, and plainly it was intended to cause maximum disruption.”
He said there had to be consecutive sentences for that, and for the incident in Mill Road, but that he would reduce them to six months each ‘because of the principle of totality,’ with Linton also being ordered to serve two months of the suspended sentence, but given concurrent terms for all the other offences.