Ipswich: Thugs locked up for vicious attack on vulnerable man at bus stop

IPSWICH/FELIXSTOWE: Two men who carried out a vicious and unprovoked attack at a bus stop on a man who was using a walking stick are behind bars today.

Alex Hazell and Brian Smith approached David Johnston in the Old Cattle Market bus station in Ipswich before prodding him with a walking stick he was using as a result of having a broken toe, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

An argument followed during which 19-year-old Smith had punched Mr Johnston, who had a bandage on his toe and was wearing an open-toed sandal, in the face.

Mr Johnston had tried to get away, but Smith followed him and tried to trip him up and had then continued to hit him in the face, said Robert Sadd, prosecuting.

Mr Johnston fell to the ground and he was then kicked by Smith and Hazell.

A member of the public stepped in to help Mr Johnston and he got to his feet only to be hit again.

As a result of the attack on June 28, Mr Johnston suffered swelling round both his eyes and bruising to his chest, ribs and ear.

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Hazell, 20, of St Mary’s Crescent, Felixstowe, and Smith, of Whinlands, Knodishall, admitted assaulting Mr Johnston causing him actual bodily harm.

Hazell was sentenced to 15 months’ detention in a young offenders’ institution and Smith was sentenced to 12 months’ detention.

Sentencing them, Judge Rupert Overbury said the incident may have started as horseplay, but had escalated into an attack on a vulnerable person.

“Attacks where the victim is kicked or stamped on while on the ground invariably lead to extremely serious injury and sometimes death.

“Young men who act in this way through drink can expect no sympathy from the courts when receiving their sentences,” said the judge.

Jude Durr, for Hazell, said he was one of five brothers and his parents were “wholly exasperated” with his behaviour.

He said that since the incident in June Hazell had been sentenced to a 14-week custodial sentence and this had a significant effect on him.

He said the incident with Mr Johnston had gotten out of hand and turned ugly very quickly.

Nicola May, for Smith, said he and Hazell had been drinking and had decided to take Mr Johnston’s stick away from him and had “messed around” with it.

She said the incident had been spontaneous and Smith had no previous convictions.

n What can be done to curb alcohol-related violence? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk