Group jailed for vigilante attack on Weston-super-Mare man's house
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
A group of friends who carried out a vigilante attack on the home of a man they suspected of a sex assault have all been locked up.
Kieran Harley, William Ridler and Nathan Gumley, all 20, and 25-year-old Michael Bateman equipped themselves with hammers, metal poles and a broken snooker cue before going round to Robert Ashford’s house in Locking Road, Weston-super-Mare, a court heard.
With Mr Ashford out, the door was kicked in and Bateman and Harley smashed glass panes in the doors, mirrors and the glass in a washing machine on July 26 last year.
Bristol Crown Court heard the attack came about after the four had been at Harley’s flat in the town, drinking and taking drugs.
James Ward, prosecuting, said Mr Ashford had previously been accused of sexually assaulting a woman who was known to the men but had not been charged with any offence.
Mr Ward said after a discussion about the situation the group got weapons together before driving in a two-car convoy to Locking Road, where Mr Ashford lived.
At about 2.20am, neighbours witnessed the break-in. Not long after they returned to Harley’s home they were arrested by police.
Mr Ward said repairs costing at least £405 were needed at Mr Ashford’s house but he had not wanted to give police a victim impact statement.
All four defendants admitted burglary with intent to cause criminal damage.
Mitigating for Harley, who now lives in Birmingham, Sam Jones said: “He deeply regrets the foolish decisions he took on the night in question.”
Paul Grumbar, representing Ridler, of Borgie Place, Worle, said: “He was prevailed upon and he was influenced. He leads a very sober and very sensible life now.”
Mitigating for Bateman, Nadeem Aullybocus said his client had been taking positive steps to turn his life around while he has been in prison, to which the judge agreed.
Gumley’s barrister Derek Perry said his client had only come down from his home in Birmingham on the night in question to visit his brother Harley.
“A few hours before he had no contemplation of this at all,” he said.
Judge Julian Lambert sentenced Harley and Gumley to six months in a Young Offenders’ Institution; Ridler to four months and Bateman, who is already in Bristol Prison for other offences, to six months, to run at the same time as his current sentence.
Described the offence as a “vigilante” attack, Judge Lambert said: “I must say, I was shocked by what you did, but not half as shocked as the victim would have been, or the residents of Weston-super-Mare.”