Men sentenced for 'vicious' attack in Ipswich churchyard

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

Two men who were part of a group which chased a man into a churchyard and kicked and punched him until he was unconscious have been given suspended prison sentences.

The victim was waiting to go into a shop in Ipswich on July 11 last year during Covid restrictions when a group of people came out of the premises, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

One of the group lunged and swore at him and when he backed away the group had chased him into a churchyard, said Adam Norris, prosecuting.

In the churchyard the victim was grabbed from behind by 29-year-old Denzel Stewart before being taken to the ground where he was kicked and punched and knocked unconscious by a number of people including Stewart and 22-year-old Gavin Priestly.

Priestly, of Milton Street, Ipswich, and Stewart, of Burrell Road, Ipswich, both admitted assault causing actual bodily harm.

They were each given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours' unpaid work.

They were also given a rehabilitation activity requirement for up to 50 days and each ordered to pay the victim of the attack £500 compensation.

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The defendants were also banned from contacting the victim.

Sentencing the men, Judge David Pugh described the attack as “vicious and unprovoked “ and said both men had punched and kicked the victim.

“My initial reaction was that you should both go into immediate custody.

“However, I’m persuaded I should suspend it due to the fact it is 12 months ago and due to the fact that you Stewart are in employment and that you Priestly are looking for employment and are addressing your alcohol addiction,” said the  judge.

Lynne Shirley, for Stewart, said her client had no previous convictions for violence and was genuinely remorseful for his behaviour.

She said her client worked for an insurance company.

Jamie Sawyer, for Priestly, said he had been drinking on the day of the offence and may have taken drugs.

“He acted out of character and he’s not someone who routinely turns to violence,” said Mr Sawyer.

He said Priestly was addressing his issues with alcohol.