A MAN who repeatedly stabbed at a police officer’s face and head with a pair of scissors has been jailed for eight years.

Craig Goddard, 42, was described as a "risk to those in authority" and told that, although he would be considered for release after four years, he would have to remain on licence for a decade - the longest possible term.

Goddard attacked Pc Leigh Fenton in East Street, St Neots, on July 14 last year.

Staff at the Marks & Spencer store in the High Street had watched Goddard steal some meat from the store and alerted Pc Fenton as he was passing. But, as the officer approached Goddard, the defendant pulled out a pair of scissors and launched an attack, repeatedly trying to stab him in the face and head.

A PCSO and a member of staff from the store went to Pc Fenton's aid, along with two off-duty officers who had spotted the incident. Goddard, of Surrey Road, Huntingdon, was eventually arrested while Pc Fenton needed hospital treatment.

Despite his injuries, the officer returned to work the next day, though he continues to suffer pain in his jaw and has a scar on his cheek.

At Norwich Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday), Goddard was given eight years for grievous bodily harm with intent - a charge he had denied but was found guilty of following a trial at Huntingdon Crown Court in January.

Speaking to The Hunts Post outside court, Pc Fenton said: "I'd like to thank everybody involved in the investigation, from those who initially came to my assistance to those who worked on getting the case to court to ensure he was convicted.

"I'm pleased he has been brought to justice and the sentence reflects what a risk Goddard poses to members of the public.

"When you join the police force you know there are dangers, and we received extensive training to prepare us for such occasions."

Judge Nicholas Coleman also sentenced Goddard to eight months in prison for possession of a bladed article and four months for theft - charges admitted by the defendant. All the sentences were to run concurrently.

Judge Coleman added that he had extended Goddard's licence period to 10 years "because I consider you a risk to the public and in particular to those in authority". It means that, if he is released after four years, he will spend the next six on licence.

He added: "You have appeared in front of Huntingdon magistrates numerous times, and they have tried all manner of ways to deal with you, but this was before your most serious offence.

"You have expressed regret and applied to do some courses while in custody to deal with your drug and alcohol problems. If you do not address these problems, then you are subject to be recalled [to prison] for a very long period of time."

Detective Constable Martin Brocklebank said: "Goddard armed himself with a weapon and was prepared to use it on anyone who tried to stop him stealing from the store. This sort of attack demonstrates the dangers that every officer faces in their day-to-day work.

"Leigh showed great courage and determination to defend himself during the attack and ensure Goddard was arrested. It is only down to sheer luck that the officer did not suffer more serious injuries.

"Despite the injury and the shock of the attack, he returned to work the following day."