When Cambridgeshire police officer PC Leo Clarke approached his colleagues after being violently assaulted, he knew his injuries were more serious than first thought.

“I walked up the stairs to the response office and remember having to hold on to the handrail thinking: ‘This isn’t good, it wasn’t just a punch’,” he said.

“I went into the office and my skipper’s look alone worried me - I spoke in gibberish apparently, and it was at that point they realised I needed to go to hospital.”

PC Clarke, 25, was left with a bleed on the brain after he was attacked while on duty on February 8 last year.

He was punched in the head by 27-year-old Joshua Gull after he became agitated and “reacted angrily” when PC Clarke switched on his body camera.

Speaking 18 months after the assault, PC Clarke spoke of the moment he saw the damage done.

“When I was released from hospital, they took the bandaging off my head and this was the first time I saw the extent of the surgery,” PC Clarke told the ‘Cambs Cops: Our Stories’ podcast.

“The photos still hit home when I see them.

“My dad and girlfriend picked me up, I think he was crying more than she was!”

PC Clarke told the podcast that it took time to get back to normal, and admits he got lucky with his recovery.

“The doctors told me it was a bleed on the brain and left unchecked, it could cause a lot of damage,” he said.

“Luckily my skipper and colleagues saw something was wrong and got me to hospital early, that has helped me get back to how I am now.”

The attack unfolded after Leo was called out to a house in Ledbury Road, Peterborough just before 5pm.

He was sent to the city after Gull became violent towards members of his own family.

Gull had missed a psychiatric appointment at Peterborough City Hospital that morning and walked to the address prior to speaking with a doctor.

He was arrested and later handed one year and eight months in jail in April last year after admitting causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) without intent.

In a victim impact statement read to the court when his attacker was sentenced, Leo explained how he was left feeling like a burden on everyone.

He told how he was left unable to do the things he had always enjoyed and said he felt like a prisoner in his own home.

But after more than a year on from the attack, PC Clarke, who was nominated for a bravery award last year, has now returned to response shifts on the front line.

“One of the main things for police is life and limb – making sure everyone is okay,” he said.

“We’ve got families as well we want to go home to, so it’s not fair.

“It might not be an ambulance turning up like you want, but we will get to where you need to and do our best to help you.”

PC Clarke, a police officer for nearly three years based in Peterborough on response, said he was first attracted to the job because of the blue lights, being pro-active and helping others to feel safer.

Chief Constable Nick Dean said assaults upon police officers and staff would never be tolerated and not ‘part of the job’.

“I am pleased to see Leo is well on the road to recovery, is back at work helping to keep Cambridgeshire safe, returned to the front line and doing the work he loves,” said Mr Dean.

“I hope his story brings home the reality of the work police officers do on a daily basis to protect others.”

Mr Dean added: “Police officers and staff are people, they are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.

“When they are attacked, they become victims just like any other, but victims who have been attacked while trying to protect others.”

To listen to the podcast episode ‘Not part of the job’, go to: https://bit.ly/3QxLvB7.