Man jailed for attack

A FELIXSTOWE man who chased after a 15-year-old girl and knocked her unconscious with a baseball bat because he thought she and her friends had been taunting his gay son has been locked up for three years.

A “red mist” had descended on Dean Canham after he received a call from his homosexual 18-year-old son Michael asking for his help following an argument with a group of young people on the town’s seafront, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Canham and his wife had driven to the scene of the trouble and on his arrival Canham had taken a baseball bat out of his car and had run towards the group, which included the 15-year-old victim and her eight-year-old sister who were staying with their parents at a local holiday park, said Christopher Morgan, prosecuting.

The 15-year-old girl had tried to run away but was pursued by Canham who swung the baseball bat and struck her on the back of her head causing her to fall to the ground.

As a result of the blow the girl briefly lost consciousness and was bleeding heavily from a 4cm wound on her head.

Mr Morgan said that when the girl’s mother arrived on the scene she thought her daughter had been hit by a car and at one stage thought she was dead.

The court heard that following the arrival of the girl’s parents blows were exchanged and in the melee the girl’s eight-year-old sister suffered bruising to her arms.

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Canham, 44, of King Street, Felixstowe admitted wounding the girl with intent to cause her grievous bodily harm and an offence of battery in relation to her eight-year-old sister. on June 12 last year.

Jailing him for three years Judge David Goodin accepted that Canham was a “committed family man” and that he had believed that his son had been subjected to abuse because of his sexual orientation.

However he said that Canham’s reaction had been “disproportionate” and said he had got out of his car with a baseball bat plainly intending to use it.

The court heard that after his arrest Canham told police that the 15-year-old girl had run off and had slipped and struck her head on the pavement.

He claimed he was confronted by the girl’s father and other people and had been attacked with a piece of wood.

Michael Canham had faced a charge of affray which he denied and on Tuesday the prosecution offered no evidence against him and a not guilty verdict was entered on the court record.

Andrew Thompson, for Dean Canham, said his client had received a telephone call from his son asking for his help and his perception was that Michael was under attack because of his homosexuality.

He said that on the night in question Michael had been out with his civil partner and his father had been “on a short fuse” because his son had been abused in the past because of his sexuality.

He said a “red mist” had descended on Canham and when he had struck the blow with the baseball bat he hadn’t appreciated that his victim was a young girl.

“The realisation that the injured person was a 15-year-old girl has caused him considerable shame and self-doubt ,” said Mr Thompson.

He said Canham had been the victim of “summary justice” on the night in question when he was hit with a piece of wood. He said he hadn’t intentionally injured the eight-year-old girl.