Video: Family protest outside court

PUBLISHED: 14:14 01 August 2008 | UPDATED: 16:26 05 May 2010

THE family and friends of a 20-year-old who today (Friday) faced a custodial sentence for hitting an off-duty police officer round the head with a skateboard held a silent protest outside the court this morning. Craig Taberer, of Kitelands Road in Biggles

THE family and friends of a 20-year-old who today (Friday) faced a custodial sentence for hitting an off-duty police officer round the head with a skateboard held a silent protest outside the court this morning.

Craig Taberer, of Kitelands Road in Biggleswade, was convicted last month of inflicting grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm, and perverting the course of justice.

But the Taberer family say CCTV images of the incident at Biggleswade Railway Station show clearly that the 41-year-old British Transport police officer, John Watson, had been spoiling for a fight with the defendant, who was 18 at the time, and two friends, Collette Welham, who was 16 and Bradley Saunders, who was 19.

The family argue that the apprentice carpenter was forced to hit Mr Watson over the head with a skateboard after the officer appeared on the verge of attacking Welham.

Outside Luton Crown Court, Taberer's family and friends gathered, wearing "Free Craig Taberer" T-shirts, to protest against the expected custodial sentence.

Father Wayne said he has been told to expect his son will be given a five to nine-year jail sentence.

He said: "I'm not condoning what he's done. I don't condone violence. Tag my boy and then at least he can finish his apprenticeship. He does deserve a slap round the legs. He has hurt someone, but you have to consider the nature of the injuries and the situation. There are books of law but there are not books of fairness and I urge the judge to take a look at the situation.

"My son has been in prison for a month now, in a category A unit. He's sharing a wing with rapists and murderers. At the end of the day, my son's not a thug. He protected a young girl of 16.

"He doesn't really leave his cell. He said there's lots of fighting going on on the wing and he would sooner stay in his cell and watch Trisha. He's not looking forward to today, obviously.

"I know my son very well and I honestly think, however long he's going to get, that with the support he has and the letters that will be sent to him to help his stay in his new home as comfortable as possible he'll be okay."

Mother Jeanette Stainer said: "It's so wrong. I hope this protest has an effect. We can only try. I saw him yesterday and he's holding up pretty well actually. He's in the right frame of mind. He just wants to know about today.

"It's totally wrong. That's why we're all here today. I feel sick with worry. I just want him home. This isn't right."

Taberer's brother, Scott Mason, said: "All he was trying to do was protect a 16-year-old girl from a drunk and aggressive copper. He doesn't deserve to go down for that.

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