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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Cumbrian man used bar stool ‘like a battering ram’ in attack on woman

A thug who shoved a bar stool into a woman’s face “like a battering ram” has escaped jail – despite appearing in court more than 30 times.

Graeme Bennett, 27, of Fleswick Avenue, Whitehaven, had previously admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he appeared before Carlisle Crown Court for sentencing.

Prosecutor Gerard Rogerson told the court that the victim, Kerry Jackson, had been enjoying drinks with friends in the Barra Jacks pub, in James Street.

Bennett entered at about 7.30pm and joined her and they had a pleasant night, until just before closing time.

“Mr Bennett tipped over his pint,” Mr Rogerson explained, “and it was pointed out it was this kind of action that could lead to him being asked to leave.”

The defendant then threw a piece of chalk at Miss Jackson who told police she jokingly responded: “What are you doing, you freak?”

Mr Rogerson continued: “Mr Bennett then picked up a bar stool and ran towards Miss Jackson, holding it – as she put it – like a battering ram.

“It hit her face, pushing her head back.”

Bennett’s victim was left with a black eye and swelling underneath it, as well as a cut across her eyebrow which needed two internal stitches and four external stitches.

Alison Whalley, mitigating, said: “My client is genuinely remorseful and genuinely regrets his actions.

“This is a combination of the defendant suffering from low mood and being highly intoxicated. It is right to say he really doesn’t know what he took during the course of this incident.”

She said that despite a succession of court appearances, the majority of which were for breaching orders although the most serious was for battery, Bennett had never appeared before a crown court or been given a custodial sentence.

Judge Peter Hughes QC said while he noted Bennett had 31 court appearances up to the end of May, the 28 days he had spent on remand since this assault were the defendant’s first experience of prison.

The judge sentenced him to 12-months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered him to complete 150 hours of unpaid work within the next year. Bennett will also be subject to curfew, between 8pm and 6am for the next 12 weeks.

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