A homeless man has been jailed after he tried to bite a police officer's finger off to avoid arrest in a savage assault at Eltham train station.

PC James Robinson had been tracking down a suspect on the Bexleyheath train line on February 2 over a suspected theft when he was "viciously attacked" as he tried to make an arrest.

The brutish attack left physical scars and puncture wounds, and the officer said he believed the suspect was "fully intending to sever it."

Liam Byron, 23, was found sleeping rough in Welling Town Centre days after the attack and arrested "smirking and giggling."

The Met said a case was built against him following the attack, and he pleaded guilty to escape from lawful custody and causing grievous bodily harm with the intent to resist arrest.

Byron was sentenced to two years and 28 days' imprisonment at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday, April 30.

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PC Robinson, of the Welling Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: “I appreciate that as a police officer I sometimes have to put myself in harm’s way, however I did not go to work that day expecting someone to try and bite my finger off in such a vicious attack.

“In the six and a half years I have been a police officer, I have never been victim to such a serious assault.

The officer added that whilst physical scars and nerve damage were one thing, even worse was the uncertainty of whether he had contracted anything from the bite, which he is currently being tested for.

“I am happy with the sentence Byron has been given, and I feel this sends a clear message that violence against police officers will not be tolerated.”

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The incident took place on Sunday, February 2, when PC James Robinson had been on a routine patrol when he noticed Byron drop a bag and then get onto a waiting train at Bexleyheath station.

Inside the bag they found several handbags which turned out had been stolen from a store in Bexley earlier that day, the Met said.

Information was circulated between the Met and British Transport Police, when PC Robinson spotted Byron boarding a train from Welling station along with another male.

When the train pulled into Eltham station, it was thought that Byron had fled the train and jumped a fence, so PC Robinson entered the train.

He found Byron sat with the other male in the carriage, and tried to arrest him on suspicion of theft.

As the officer was securing the handcuffs, Byron shouted "not today mate" and began to struggle, freeing one hand and waved the handcuffs as a weapon, hitting the PC on the head.

A struggle ensued between PC Robinson and Byron, during which the suspect bit down on the officer's finger.

The attack was "sustained", and PC Robinson said he felt Byron "increasing the pressure on my finger with his teeth."

The officer continued to try to restrain Byron despite serious damage to his finger, and when the train pulled into Kidbrooke station, Byron released the finger and fled the train.

Two days later, a Bexleyheath police team found Byron sleeping rough in Welling Town Centre, and booked him into a police station.

"Smiling and giggling," he turned around to the arresting officer and said: "You know I can kick off if I want to you ask James Robinson about it.”

Detectives tried to interview Byron several times, but he refused, and he was subsequently charged with theft, escaping from lawful custody and grievous bodily harm (wounding with intent to resist arrest).

PC Robinson suffered permanent scarring and temporary nerve damage, but despite the injuries, he was back at work in a restricted capacity the very next day and has since made a full recovery.