Judge praises judo instructor who resisted arrest while flouting lockdown rules

A martial arts instructor who ‘took down’ two policemen as they tried to arrest him for holding free outdoor judo classes for children during the COVID lockdown has avoided prison after a judge praised his ‘excellent’ courtroom plea for leniency.

Daniel Carr, 37, used his judo skills to throw one officer to the ground before striking another on the wrist who was about to pepper spray him in February 2021.

Police attempted to shut down the event as it grew larger, and asked Carr to leave as he was the organiser.

But he then “frustrated” the police’s efforts to intervene and a “scuffle broke out”.

Mr MacGregor said: “It got to the stage where PC Mehmood decided he had to arrest the defendant but he was thrown to the floor twice.

”PC Zebb deployed his Pava spray but during the scuffle that ensued was punched on his left wrist.”

Carr, who pleaded guilty to to a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm, said: ”My intention that day was to help people struggling with the effects of lockdown, myself amongst them, and to offer free martial arts lessons to kids who may have been struggling, something I am trained and qualified to do, and something I had been doing for some years before lockdown.

”I still believe what I was doing or trying to do was the right thing to do, however maybe in the wrong way. During a very difficult time due to isolation and the news a few weeks earlier that my mother had been diagnosed with cancer and was going through radiotherapy I wasn’t thinking 100 per cent clearly.

“I have always done what I believe is the right thing to do, I have made mistakes and strayed from the path at times, but I’ve always stood up and taken responsibility for my mistakes. Allowing myself to assault a police officer trying to arrest me however unlawful I perceived that arrest to be, was wrong, resulting in an officer being hurt, causing stress and upset to his family.

“It put stress and pressure on my family at a time when they had enough to deal with. It undermined any good I was trying to do and caused me to lose the judo club l had set up and my job, not to mention friendships and the respect many people in the community had for me.”

He added: “This was all set in motion by how I reacted that day, to which I feel is in no way representative of who I am or who I want to be. My reaction that day was completely instinctive with the sole intention of escaping what I perceived at the time to be a threat, partly influenced by my emotional mental state, partly by my righteous indignation and partly by my pride, to which I am ashamed, embarrassed and deeply sorry for any pain or distress I may have caused.”

Sentencing, Judge Angela Nield told Carr he had delivered an “excellent speech in mitigation” and said he had expressed himself in “a careful and impressive manner”. 

She also made no order for compensation for the two PCs.

She told Carr: ”Your actions were affected by your own mental state at the time. You were understandably in distress at your mother’s recent diagnosis which compounded your own difficulties and the restrictions that you were struggling with significantly.”

At an earlier hearing, Carr was fined £2,000 for breaching Covid restrictions over the judo classes and was also ordered to pay £1,960 court costs and a £200 victim surcharge.

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