A DRINK-DRIVER who headbutted a paramedic trying to help him after he crashed his car has escaped an immediate prison sentence.

Gary Roberts hit three vehicles before fleeing the scene when a concerned Stefan Cartwright offered him assistance after arriving in an ambulance on Newport’s Chepstow Road.

One of the reasons Judge Christopher Vosper QC said he was sentencing the defendant to a suspended jail term was that it took 10 months to charge him with assault.

This was despite the fact he had admitted the offence to officers as soon as he was arrested just after it happened.

Roberts was only initially charged with drink driving before belatedly the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm was added.

He admitted committing both on the night of Sunday, August 6, last year.

Judge Vosper blasted Gwent Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their failings in the case.

He said: “I regard the delay in this case as unexplained and inexcusable from those prosecuting it.”

The judge added that had Roberts been charged with both offences at the same time, an immediate prison sentence would almost certainly have followed.

Prosecutor Gareth James said the attack had floored the victim, who suffered a bloody nose and swelling and bruising to his face, before the defendant walked off.

Newport Crown Court heard how Mr Cartwright, who attended the sentencing hearing in his uniform, has been left mentally scarred by the assault and missed 10 weeks of work as a result.

A victim impact statement read by Mr James heard how he suffers “flashbacks” and now has difficulty sleeping well.

He said Mr Cartwright “had loved his job but has now seriously thought about leaving it”.

Mr James said Roberts, 47, of Collingwood Avenue, Newport, had 10 previous convictions for 20 offences, including those of violence.

In June this year, he was given another suspended jail sentence for ABH, assaulting a constable and possession of cannabis.

Vanessa Francis, mitigating, said her client felt “wretched” for what he had done to Mr Cartwright.

She added: “He is painfully aware of how important the medical and ambulance services are and he is extremely remorseful. He is horrified by what he did.”

The court also heard how Roberts is the carer for his 15-year-old daughter.

Judge Vosper said a further reason he was not sending the defendant into custody was that she would have to be placed in care if he did.

He jailed Roberts, who he said had drank “a significant quantity” of alcohol on the night of his offending, for six months, suspended for two years, imposed a curfew order and told him he must pay a victim surcharge.