A teenager seriously injured a homeless man who was sleeping on a bench over an accusation that he sent a photograph of a woman to a paedophile.
Luke Pinder, 18, appeared at Swindon Magistrates’ Court charged with actual bodily harm (ABH) over the incident in Chippenham on 7 August last year.
Crown prosecutor Keith Ballinger said the defendant, of Fairfield, Royal Wootton Bassett, had found out the victim had allegedly sent a photograph of his friend, then 20-year-old Summer Bransgrove, to a relative who they believed was a paedophile.
The pair get into a car and drive from Melksham to Chippenham in search of the man. They were seen walking down Monkton Hill before finding him on a bench in a council car park.
Miss Bransgrove began shouting at him and soon after, Pinder rained down three full-force blows on his victim. As a result, the defendant suffered injuries to his own hand.
The victim was knocked unconscious in the incident and recalls very little. He remembers waking up covered in blood believing he had been assaulted. The police and ambulance service were contacted.
At the Royal United Hospital in Bath, he was found to have sustained a fractured nose and perforated eardrum.
In a victim personal statement, the victim said he had not been able to return to Chippenham since the attack as he was regularly suffering flashbacks.
“I now have to attend the ear nose and throat clinic at the RUH as I am struggling with my hearing as a result of the assault”, he said. Adding: “It has also exacerbated my mental health [issues]. The thought of being in and around people scares me.”
He also suffered a noticeable scar on his nose.
Defence solicitor Richard Williams said Pinder was worried his victim was going to get up and come towards Summer when they confronted him but “I’ve told him that’s nowhere near a defence”.
The only mitigation offered was that the defendant was a child at the time.
Now, Pinder is working as a trainee mechanic having obtained an apprenticeship. He’s in a relationship and has recently moved in with his girlfriend.
Magistrates labelled the incident as a “sustained” and “deliberate” assault on a “person who was vulnerable”.
“You drove from Melksham to Chippenham to target a homeless man trying to sleep on a bench”, the chairman of the bench said. Adding: “If you were older than you are, you’d be going straight to jail now.”
She said the fact he was aged 17 when it happened was “heavy mitigation”.
Pinder escaped a prison sentence; a 12-month community order was imposed, with 240 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay £450 compensation, a £95 victim surcharge and £85 costs.