Man jailed after attempt to influence witness

A MAN has been jailed for trying to influence the chief witness in an assault trial against him.

Jonathan Whitworth, 24, wrote a letter to a fellow inmate while he was in jail awaiting trial.

He was remanded last August on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent when he was charged with pouring boiling water over a friend.

While at Holme House Prison, in Stockton, last November, he penned a letter to a fellow prisoner who was due for release.

Whitworth asked him to take the alleged victim for a drink on the day he was due to give evidence at court.

In the letter Whitworth wrote: “Make friends with him and on the day just take him for a drink out of the way.

“Make sure he knows everyone here is going to do him in, but if all goes well it will be forgot about, well about a week or so, ha ha.”

But the note was intercepted by prison chiefs.

Whitworth was cleared of the attack at his trial in January after the witness said he could not remember who assaulted him.

Anthony Dunne, prosecuting, at Teesside Crown Court, said: “The Crown’s case against the defendant was obviously this letter was an instruction to the recipient to contact the witness and persuade him not to give evidence at the trial of the defendant.

“It must be stressed this letter cannot itself have played a part in that turn of events because it was intercepted before it made its way to the intended recipient.”

Whitworth, of Arkley Crescent, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice and was jailed for 60 weeks.

Robin Denny, mitigating, said: “Much of it is prison show-off, but he accepts of course that he wrote the letter.

“There are huge varieties in offending of this particular type and it’s very much at the bottom end because nothing was proceeded with.”

Sentencing, Recorder Simon Hickey said: “It was a serious attempt to pervert the course of justice.

“A court senior to me says a prison sentence must always follow in your case.”