A COVENTRY police officer honoured by the Queen was subjected to ‘venomous’ racial abuse as he was assaulted by a convicted prostitute he had been called to deal with.
Pc Cornell ‘Barney’ Barnes, who received an MBE in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List, ended up with a cut to his chin during the assault by foul-mouthed Aurora Gronan.
Gronan (40) of Douglas House, Hillfields, Coventry, initially denied racially-aggravated common assault on Pc Barnes, who was known as the ‘Sheriff of Hillfields.’
But on the day of her trial at Warwick Crown Court she pleaded guilty to that charge and to common assault on another man during the incident.
And after hearing that her many previous convictions included one for racially aggravated assault, she was jailed for ten months.
Prosecutor Ian Speed said on September 2015 the police were alerted to a woman banging on the door of a house in Hartlepool Road, Coventry.
When Pc Barnes arrived the occupier, a man in his late 60s, who had previously been issued with an anti-social behaviour notice and was due to be evicted, let him in.
The man told the officer that Gronan had been banging on his door, demanding to be let in, and when he did so, demanded a cigarette.
He said she had then gone upstairs where she was asleep on the bed, and he took Pc Barnes up to the bedroom.
When Pc Barnes roused Gronan, she kicked out, kicking the man, who already had an injury resulting in him wearing a neck brace, to the shoulder.
She then lashed out at Pc Barnes, causing a cut to his chin, while hurling an stream of extreme racial abuse at him, including calling him a c**n and a n***er.
Gronan was arrested and taken out to a police vehicle, still shouting vile abuse at the officer in front of other residents who retreated into their homes.
When she was interviewed she denied assaulting Pc Barnes, claiming she had been woken and dragged downstairs and ‘banged off the wall.’
Mr Speed said Gronan had 37 previous convictions for 77 offences, including robberies in 2001, 2008 and 2010, assaulting a police officer in 2004 and a racially aggravated public order offence in 2012, as well as many for prostitution and theft.
He added that Pc Barnes, who has since retired after more than 25 years, during which he was awarded the MBE for services to neighbourhood policing, said he had rarely been subjected to the sort of venomous words Gronan used towards him.
At the time of his retirement last year, Pc Barnes, who had served for 25 years in the Army before joining the West Midlands force in 1990, was said to be Britain’s oldest Pc at 66.
Alexander Pritchard-Jones, defending, pointed out Gronan had entered her pleas on the basis that her actions had been reckless, rather than deliberate assaults.
“She was passed out through drink and drugs that night, so when she was woken by these two men in her room, she lashed out. It was entirely unacceptable, and she accepts that.
He said Gronan had had ‘the most horrendous upbringing’ from the age of 16, commenting: “No-one of 16 is voluntarily selling her body on the streets of Coventry.”
She had become addicted to drink and drugs, and there had been a cycle of offending until October 2015, when she had moved out of Coventry and taken a flat in Birmingham, but she had ‘now foolishly returned to Coventry.’
Jailing Gronan, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told her: “I have read Pc Barnes’s statement. He was the subject of venomous words from you, and I have absolutely no doubt he is right when he says young children saw and heard what was said.
“These are vile offences, and they strike at the heart of our community.”