Scarborough couple and friend avoid prison after man beaten unconscious in street

A young couple and their friend avoided prison after beating a man unconscious during a birthday night out in Scarborough.
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Christian Law, 33, his partner Laura Carter, 30, and Law's colleague at a Volkswagen garage Jack Wade, 26, all pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on victim John Kennedy during an altercation which began in a pub in November 2018.

At York Crown Court on December 29, Judge Sean Morris gave the trio suspended sentences but admitted that they would have faced immediate custody had there not been significant delays to the case, some Covid-related as courtrooms could not safely accommodate more than two defendants.

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The court heard that violence erupted after the named victim - who suffered a broken nose and fractured jaw - allegedly called Carter deeply offensive names, said prosecutor Katherine Robinson.

York Crown CourtYork Crown Court
York Crown Court

Carter pushed him away and the victim allegedly hit her, knocking her to the ground.

They both ended up on the ground before the “ensuing melee” in the street.

The victim then aimed more abuse at Carter and allegedly punched her partner Christian Law, who was among a group of at least a dozen people brawling on the pavement in St Thomas Street in the early hours of November 18, 2018.

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The melee spilled onto the road after the victim tried to move away from the group, throwing punches as he did so.

As the group of up to 15 people scuffled in the middle of the road, Law, a master technician with Volkswagen who had been out celebrating his 30th birthday, punched the victim and rugby-tackled him to the ground.

“(The victim) appeared to be unconscious on the floor,” said Ms Robinson.

“It’s at that point that Laura Carter removes her shoe and hits him twice with it.”

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At the same time, a second man, 26-year-old Jack Wade - Law’s colleague at Volkswagen - punched the victim in the face as he laid motionless on the ground.

As he did so, Wade said to the comatose victim: “That’s what you get for hitting girls.”

CCTV footage of the incident showed another, unidentified man apparently stamping on the victim’s head.

Carter - a manager at Whitbread, the multinational hotel and restaurant chain - was about to hit him a third time with the shoe, but then realised he was unconscious and shielded his head with her hand to protect him from further violence.

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Wade, of Columbus Ravine, Scarborough, was being pulled from the victim by others.

Carter and Law - who live together in Milton Avenue, Scarborough - left the scene but returned later when police arrested them on the spot.

Wade handed himself in the following day.

The victim was taken to Scarborough Hospital by ambulance but had “no memory at all of how he came to be in hospital”.

A CT scan revealed he had suffered fractures to his jaw, nasal bone and around his left eye.

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He was transferred to a specialist facial unit at York District Hospital where he had surgery to insert screws and plates to his broken bones.

He subsequently had further surgery to remove wisdom teeth which had been damaged in the attack.

Carter, Law and Wade ultimately admitted causing grievous bodily harm without intent following a lengthy delay in the case caused partly by the Covid crisis.

They appeared for sentence on Wednesday (Dec 29) after finally being charged in January 2020 – about 15 months after the incident.

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The court heard that although none of the defendants had hitherto clean records, Carter had received a caution for common assault in 2013 - for hitting someone with a shoe.

Nick Peacock, for Wade, said the father-of-one was otherwise a man of impeccable character and a highly regarded worker at Volkswagen.

Oliver Connor, for Law, said his client, now 33, was a “hard-working, devoted father” who was “seeking to protect his partner Laura Carter” during the violence, although he accepted that he “went too far”.

Law, a workshop foreman at the car manufacturer, was “petrified” at the prospect of going to jail, not least because he and Carter had a baby and had just bought a house together.

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Graham O’Sullivan, for Carter, said that in addition to her work as a hospitality manager, the mother-of-two had been an NHS volunteer at the height of the Covid pandemic.

He said that although Carter had been in the thick of the violence, she “effectively became a first-aider, keeping her hand on (the victim’s) head, keeping him stable”, once she realised he was unconscious.

Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, said that had the case reached court much earlier, each of the defendants would have been going to jail.

But because of the inordinate delay, “we are now three years down the line (and) none of that is any of your fault”.

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Due to this, and the fact that all the defendants were in work and had child-caring duties, he could suspend the inevitable jail sentences.

“There are countless references (for each defendant) saying this is completely and utterly out of character,” added Mr Morris.

“Waiting three years wondering whether you are going to prison is something of a punishment in itself and something (akin to) mental torture.”

Each of the defendants was given a nine-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out 180 hours’ unpaid work.

In addition, the judge ordered each of them to pay £500 compensation to the victim.