Ipswich: Foreign holidays, music gigs and festivals... the hectic schedule of student too hard-up to pay compensation to assault victim

IPSWICH: A man partially-blinded in a brutal street assault today told of the impact the incident has had – and blasted the court’s decision not to jail his attacker.

Stephen Hails lost vision in his left eye and fractured his thumb and eye socket after being punched to the floor in Fore Street last December.

Ben Redman, a 22-year-old student at University Campus Suffolk (UCS), was given a 12-month suspended sentence after admitting a charge of grievous bodily harm.

“The sentence I feel is quite sickening,” said Mr Hails, an upholsterer.

“I’m not happy – he’s basically got away with everything really.

“If he keeps his nose clean for two years he’ll be okay.”

The judge in the case ruled that Redman would not have to pay compensation due to his “dire financial situation”. It has since emerged Redman has been on two foreign holidays in the months between the assault and his sentencing.

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“He’s got to pay me no compensation and I have lost lots of money,” said Mr Hails.

“I’m permanently blinded in my left eye – the whole eyeball had to be stitched back together because it was shattered.”

Redman hit Mr Hails in Fore Street last December after the 53-year-old had challenged him after seeing him push a girl on to a car bonnet. Redman’s lawyer, Claire Ashcroft, claimed in court he had only playfully pushed the girl.

Ipswich Crown Court heard Redman had intimidated and goaded his victim by asking: “What are you going to do about it, old man?”

The attack has left Mr Hails with no vision in his left eye, problems with his thumb and trapped nerves, meaning one side of his face is numb.

Mr Hails said: “He’s messed my life up, I don’t know how much longer I can continue working.

“He’s a coward. He hit me to the ground and ran off. He did not care what happened to me. I’ve got children, two daughters, and I would probably still say something if I see a girl getting hit. In my day and age it was not done.

“I live and work five minutes from the university and I have seen him around – it’s been traumatic on that side of it.”

Judge David Goodin, sitting at Ipswich Crown Court, suspended Redman’s 12-month sentence for two years, ordered him to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and imposed a two-month night-time curfew on him at his mother’s address in Basildon.

He said given Redman’s financial situation there was little point in making an order for compensation.

The court was told Redman was “devastated” by what had happened and was “genuinely concerned” about the victim. Redman, of Athena Hall, Duke Street, is set to begin his final year of a business and marketing degree next month.

A spokeswoman for UCS said internal disciplinary procedures had begun against Redman but would not confirm if and when a formal hearing would take place.

FOR most people, being charged with grievous bodily harm and the prospect of a court appearance would cause no end of worry and concern.

But for thug Ben Redman life since he thumped victim Stephen Hails has seemingly been packed with holidays, music gigs and festivals.

The 22-year-old’s Facebook page reveals an all-inclusive trip to Lanzarote in April, a plush holiday in Egypt last month and a stay in a “luxury hotel” in London.

Since December when Redman, an undergraduate at University Campus Suffolk, lashed out at his 53-year-old victim, he has also attended a string of gigs, including house DJ David Guetta twice, electronic music duo Chase and Status and DJ group Swedish House Mafia.

And this week Redman will be gearing up to enjoy watching Rhianna, Eminem, Arctic Monkeys, Plan B, Calvin Harris and other live acts at the V Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

His busy schedule has come despite his lawyer arguing in court he was a student with no means who could not afford to pay his victim compensation.

Redman was clearly confident he would not be jailed – on August 4, just four days before he appeared at Ipswich Crown Court to learn his fate, Redman posted a message on his Facebook page which read: “V Tickets have been dispatched, sweet!!!”

Preparing for his all-inclusive trip to Lanzarote, he wrote, “Lanzarote here I come”, on April 11, followed by an update on his return, saying “Well Playa Blanca in Lanzarote is the most beautiful place I have ever been”, four days later.

Then in May he proclaimed, “Chilling in me luxury hotel with a nelson and wine getting ready for david guetta!!!”, before revealing doubts over whether he would receive his passport in time for another holiday to Egypt.

On July 10 he wrote, “Hoping me passport comes through in time so I can be soaking up the sun in me speedos next Sunday in Egypt!!”, followed by “Got me passport through, I’m off to Egypt on Saturday,” the following day.