TWO Workington bus company workers bravely overpowered a violent thug after he launched a terrifying and unprovoked attack on a young woman.

John Ian Pullin, 34, carried out the attack in broad daylight, slamming his victim’s head into the ground after grabbing her hair and then forcefully stamping repeatedly on her head and face.

The violence ended thanks to the courage of Stagecoach workers Tony Hanlon and his colleague Connor Shaw. 

At Carlisle Crown Court, disturbing CCTV images of Pullin’s extreme violence, in Murray Road, Workington, on March 3, showed him grabbing the woman by her hair and smashing her head into the pavement.

As horrified bystanders watched, he continued his attack on the unconscious and defenceless woman, a complete stranger to him, the court heard.

The violence came minutes after Pullin had almost bumped into the woman as he ran along the road, forcing her to jump out of his way. Accusing her of trying to trip him up, he yelled abuse and threats and threw her suitcase into the road.

It was as the woman called the police outside Workington Bus Station to report his threats that Pullin launched his attack. CCTV images show how the two Stagecoach company workers intervened, desperately trying to protect the woman.

But Pullin attacked the men, grabbing Mr Hanlon's tie and punching him, knocking off his spectacles. Mr Shaw got involved, eventually restraining Pullin.

The police arrived a short time later and arrested Pullin, who continued struggling.

In court, Pullin’s defence lawyer Sean Harkin accepted that the defendant, of Birks Road, Cleator Moor, had no mitigation other than his guilty plea to attempting to intentionally cause the woman grievous bodily harm.

Pullin also admitted assaulting Mr Hanlon – a depot inspector with Stagecoach – and damaging his spectacles as well as assaulting Mr Shaw.

As he jailed Pullin for three years and eight months, Recorder Julian Shaw told him that he was fortunate not to have killed the woman.

Throughout most of the attack, said the judge, the woman was “utterly helpless” as she lay unconscious on the ground. “That fact that this came to an end,” said Recorder Shaw, “was down to the courage of two complete strangers, Depot Inspector Tony Hanlon and Connor Shaw, another worker.

“They ran to stop you.” The judge described Pullin’s violence as “sickening”, noting that it was completely unprovoked.  It was miraculous, he said, that the victim did not suffer more horrific injuries.

The judge told Pullin: “You are extremely fortunate, young man, that you didn’t kill that woman and then stand before this court facing a far graver charge.” The woman sustained a broken thumb, a possible nose fracture and severe facial bruising.

In a statement, she confirmed that she now suffers post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the attack. “It’s affected my life in so many ways,” she wrote. She suffered nightmares and was left unable to work.

“She says she feels shocked that she was assaulted by a stranger in broad daylight, in Workington Town Centre and that she should feel safe,” said prosecutor Peter Connick.

Formerly able to easily use a computer, she now found that impossible. Because of her thumb injury, she needed other people to open bottles for her and she could no longer play her guitar.

She at times found it hard to breathe because of the nose injury. Previously, she enjoyed walking and cycling but she now feared going outside. “It’s completely turned my life around," she said.

“It’s literally impacted every part of my life. But the workers at the bus station saved my life.” She was glad she was the victim as if it had been an elderly person they may not have survived, she said.

In his statement, Mr Hanlon said he feared Pullin would have killed the woman if he and the other man had not intervened.  

At no point has Pullin, who has 103 offences on his criminal record, including 15 convictions for violence, expressed any remorse for his offending. At the time, he was under a criminal behaviour order that banned him from Workington town centre because of his prolific previous offending.