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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Beggar who whipped disabled Cumbrian man freed

A beggar who whipped a disabled Carlisle man who refused to give him money has been freed on appeal.

David John Nicholson, 51, had been jailed for 17 months in October for assaulting 53-year-old stroke victim Frank Forrester with a dog leash.

But the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the sentence was “manifestly excessive” and freed Nicholson, of Lediard Avenue, Currock.

Nicholson turned on Mr Forrester after he was turned away when he called at the victim’s house in Currock.

He pleaded guilty to charges of common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was subsequently jailed by Carlisle Crown Court. But after an appeal by his lawyers, his sentence was cut to six months. This means he can be released immediately on licence.

Sir Christopher Holland, sitting at London’s Court of Appeal with Lord Justice Toulson and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, said Nicholson’s case was a “bizarre” one.

On the evening of January 13 last year, Nicholson had knocked on Mr Forrester’s door and asked for 5p for his Staffordshire bull terrier.

Mr Forrester refused and told him to go, whereupon Nicholson removed the dog’s leash and whipped the householder across the back. The victim had recently had a stroke and was walking with a stick.

The medication he was taking meant that his bruises did not heal for weeks.

Shortly after the attack, Nicholson took his dog to a house nearby and asked for a few pence from 31-year-old dad, Christopher Stott.

When Mr Stott refused, he again removed the dog’s leash and swung it at the householder, narrowly missing when Mr Stott took a step back.

He was arrested later that night. After he was picked out in an identification parade, he said he had no idea why he was begging because he had money in the bank.

Nicholson said he was ashamed of what he did. He said he had been drinking cider and had not taken the correct dosage of medication he needed.

His lawyers argued that the sentences he received for the two assaults were much too tough and should be slashed.

Giving the judgement, Sir Christopher said: “Having given careful consideration to all the material, we are quite satisfied that the end result in terms of the sentence of 17 months was manifestly excessive, so excessive that we should quash it.“Having regard to the nature of the offence and to all the circumstances and giving modest credit for the guilty plea, we are quite satisfied that the appropriate sentence is six months.”

Nicholson would only have to serve half of his sentence before release on licence and had already served almost four months.Mr Forrester declined to comment on the court’s decision.He told the News & Star: “I just want to put the incident behind me.”

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