A PENRITH teenager who led a gang attack on an off-duty firefighter and then assaulted another man weeks later has been branded “aggressive, unpredictable and dangerous.”

The description was applied to 19-year-old Reece Troy after he pleaded guilty to two unrelated grievous bodily harm assaults.

At Carlisle Crown Court, prosecutor Brendan Burke outlined the facts of both offences, committed barely a month apart last year. The first victim was an off-duty firefighter who was socialising with friends in Penrith’s Pinny Pub on October 1.

“He noticed four males staring at him and there was an exchange, with the man asking what they were staring at,” began Mr Burke. The men’s response was to simply shout back “What?”

The group then went outside, followed by the firefighter.

“The last thing he remembers at that point was talking to one of the males who, the Crown say, was this defendant. He remembers nothing more other than losing consciousness.”

Witnesses described seeing Troy punching the man to the ground during what became a group attack. During this, the victim was repeatedly banged against a skip and then kicked as he lay on the ground.

The firefighter was left covered in blood, said Mr Burke.

He was taken to hospital, where medics stitched a wound in his head and treated other injuries, which included two black eyes and bruising over his body.

Mr Burke then read from a victim personal statement.

“He didn’t see his children for a few weeks because he didn’t want them to see their father in that state,” said the prosecutor. The man also had to take two and a half weeks off work.

The defendant was arrested in the early hours after the attack.

Through the door of the house where he was living, he told police officers that the victim deserved what happened, claiming he had made unwelcome comments about one of his friends who had taken his own life.

A memorial service was held for the friend that day. 

Outlining the second assault, Mr Burke said it happened on November 24. The victim had left The Loft wine and cocktail bar in Penrith to buy cigarettes at 6.30pm and encountered Troy in a nearby alley.

“The victim greeted the defendant because he had known him from school,” said Mr Burke. His next memory was being back in the pub, with a pain in his face, and cuts and bruises on his head an arms.

The man was covered in blood. Witnesses confirmed that Troy, of Wordsworth Street, Penrith, was the attacker.

Mr Burke said: “The victim spent some time trying to work out what the reason behind this attack was and the only thing he could speculate on was that a few months earlier he had sent a few messages to the defendant’s ex-partner.”

The court heard that the defendant’s record comprised seven previous crimes, including taking a car without consent and a robbery when he was 15, though he was not the lead offender.

Kim Whittlestone, defending, said Troy was struggled with his ADHD, and autism and bipolar disorder. After having to withdraw from a school in Appleby because of transport problems, he transferred to Ullswater Community College.

Unable to fit in, he mixed with other young people who were older and began drinking and illegal substances. “He was intoxicated when he attacked [the firefighter],” said Miss Whittlestsone.

But Troy’s family were supporting him.

Judge Michael Fanning accepted there were underlying mental health issues and that young men often do not mature fully until they are at least 25. But Troy had led the violence during the first gang attack, said the judge.

Considering what he knew about Troy, Judge Fanning told the defendant: “I regard you… at this stage as an aggressive, unpredictable, violent and in fact dangerous young man, albeit you are not as a matter of law dangerous.”

Given his findings and the risk posed by Troy, Judge Fanning said he would not suspend the two-year jail term he was imposing. People were entitled to visit pubs without being attacked by a “violent thug,” added the judge.

After the case concluded, Detective Constable Ciara Hodgeson said: “These were violent and unprovoked attacks which left the victims with serious injuries.

"I am pleased we have justice for the victims and a dangerous man is now behind bars.

“Convictions such as this demonstrate that Cumbria Police will do everything we can to make sure those who engage in acts of violence are brought to justice.”