Attackers ‘lucky’ to avoid prison

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THREE yobs who attacked a woman late at night in the street have narrowly avoided prison.

Geoffrey Vanes, Martin Gordon and Michaela Watt took part in the joint attack on Daryn Hull as she was on her way to a shop on a bike.

Vanes, 26, and Gordon, 23, rained punches down on the victim while Watt, 21, yelled encouragement.

The attack happened at about 10pm at the junction of Sandringham Road and Murray Street, in Hartlepool.

Matthew Bean, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said there was a short conversation between Vanes and Miss Hull about an earlier incident involving a broken window before he launched the attack.

He said: “Vanes began to assault her, punching her to the face and head. At the same time he tried to pull the mountain bike from her.

“Gordon joined in and punched her to the face, head and body. As this was happening Watt joined in with her two friends and shouted words of encouragement.

“It’s accepted she did not use violence.”

The victim was dragged around, stood on and at one point, Vanes hit her with the bike’s front wheel which had come off.

The three left the victim when someone went outside to see what was going on.

Miss Hull suffered bruising but was otherwise uninjured.

Vanes, Gordon and Watt were arrested and later admitted affray on July 9 last year.

Rupert Doswell, mitigating for Vanes, of Willow Walk, Hartlepool, said he had been drinking which affected the medication he takes.

He said: “It’s accepted that this was unpleasant and unacceptable behaviour in a public place.”

Paul Abrahams, for welder Gordon, of Elliott Street, Hartlepool, described him as a “general nuisance” who does “not stop to think”.

Martin Scarborough, mitigating for Watt, of Arkley Crescent, Hartlepool, said she had played a “lesser role” and had had “quite a bit to drink”.

All three received eight months prison, suspended for two years, and will pay £150 compensation.

Vanes and Watt were given 12-months probation and Gordon 18-months, with 120 hours unpaid work.

Judge Peter Armstrong said the attack warranted a prison sentence but he could suspend it.

He said: “You are all fortunate that the injuries she received were not more serious.

“If they had been, all three of you would be going straight into custody today.”