A THUG who was part in an attack on a 16-year-old boy in a Carlisle park was caught after video footage of the violence was circulated on social media.

Mobile phone video footage of the assault was played at the city’s crown court, showing how 18-year-old William Cowell repeatedly kicked the victim as he lay on the ground, curled into a ball to protect himself.

The defendant was one of two young men involved.

Cowell was linked to the assault in Melbourne Park by both his distinctive clothing and by Facebook messages he later sent to friends, boasting that he left the teenager “knocked out in a puddle of blood, causing bleeding to his brain.”

That was an exaggeration as the 16-year-old, who was checked over at hospital, suffered what doctors said was a minor head injury. Cowell, of Currock Road, Carlisle, admitted an assault causing actual bodily harm.

Alaric Walmsley, prosecuting, outlined the facts of the case as the defendant listened from a prison video booth.

The victim was walking through Melbourne Park at around 5pm when he encountered Cowell and another young man, said the prosecutor.  “The two men assaulted him by punching and kicking the victim, who curled up in a ball to protect himself.

“This defendant stamps on the victim’s head. They left him in hospital with mild head injuries and cuts and bruises and pain.

“After the incident, a local teacher became aware of a video which was circulating on social media and he came into possession of it and provided it to the police.” The video showed the attack.

It also confirmed that the defendant – wearing distinctive tracksuit bottoms with a white stripe – was one of the two attackers. When interviewed by the police, Cowell said he had experienced issues with the defendant in the past.

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He claimed the victim threatened him. Cowell said it was the second male who punched the teenager multiple times, causing him to fall to the ground. The victim did not support the prosecution.

In his basis of plea, the defendant admitted kicking the teenager three times while he was on the ground. The court also heard more about the Facebook messages sent by the defendant about the attack.

In one message, Cowell told a friend he had stamped on the teenager’s head, and “popped” the bubbles on his trainers, leaving the victim unconscious and with a “bleed on his brain.”

The defendant’s criminal history comprised of several previous offences, including attempted robbery, a robbery, an assault causing actual bodily harm and using threatening behaviour.

Andrew Gurney, defending, said that while Cowell had kicked the victim, at no time did he stamp on his head. Explaining the comments sent via Facebook, the lawyer said: “It was misplaced bravado, from a very immature teenager.”

The defendant had not been diagnosed formally with ADHD or Asperger’s but there were suspicions he suffered from those conditions.

“This is clearly a young man who needs assistance and guidance,” continued Mr Gurney. “He didn’t have the best start in life. He was taken into local authority care as an infant and has had only sporadic contact with his parents, who have not provided a good role model to him.”

Mr Gurney said the assault was not premeditated but spontaneous, having happened after a chance encounter with the victim.

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Cowell became agitated after the victim had suggested to people that there was a “price on his head,” said Mr Gurney. It was the second unidentified male who had taken it on himself to launch the attack.

Recorder Ian Unsworth QC described the attack as “wanton violence in a public place.” The judge said of the video: “You could clearly be seen kicking the victim two or three times.” It was a mercy the teenager was not more seriously injured.

Given that the victim was vulnerable, it was a group attack, and that the defendant’s record included previous violence, only custody could be justified for the assault, said the judge.

He sent Cowell to a young offender’s institution for 15 months.

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