Mother of man viciously assaulted in Chester says justice system 'failed' her son


Steve Creswell

THE mother of a man who was viciously assaulted by so-called friends in Chester says she feels let down by the justice system after his attackers were spared jail.

George Whitfield, 23, and a group of former school friends from Shrewsbury had travelled to the city to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

But an argument between him and three others ended in violence when he was knocked to the ground and then punched and kicked outside a bar on Bridge Street.

Shortly after, Mr Whitfield was attacked again by one of the thugs who swung a punch into the side of his face as they walked to the railway station.

Chester Crown Court heard last week that he was left with a fractured jaw, cheekbone and eye socket and was said to be “haunted” by memories of the attack.

Lewis Gardner, 22, Joe Pugh, 26, and Aaron Pinches, 23, all admitted assault charges but were spared an immediate jail sentence by Judge Simon Berkson.

Following the hearing, Mr Whitfield’s mum Deborah, 56, said: “We are a bit gutted to say the least. I thought with the gravity of the injuries it would be a custodial sentence.

“I feel my son has been let down by the criminal justice system. You have got the police out there doing their utmost so there was enough evidence to bring it to court.

“We are all from Shrewsbury, born and bred, but he has moved out of the town as a result of this. His girlfriend did not feel safe in the town anymore.

“It is horrendous for the family. We are the type of family who holidayed together and we are close, but if we see them once a week now we are lucky.”

In a victim impact statement read to the court by prosecutor James Coutts, Mr Whitfield said he had been “physically and emotionally scarred” by the ordeal.

One doctor said his injuries were more consistent with a car crash and, despite undergoing two operations, he had still been left with permanent scarring.

“I’m constantly haunted by the events of January 24, 2015,” Mr Whitfield said. “It sickens me that they could inflict such horrible injuries on me in such an unprovoked attack.”

The manager of the bar described the incident as “some of the most serious violence she had ever seen”, Mr Coutts told the court.

The three defendants were said to be remorseful and focused on living law-abiding lives.

Gardner, of Cadfael Way, pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm and was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years.

Pugh, of Huffley Lane, pleaded guilty to common assault and was given three months, suspended for two years.

Pinches, of Radbrook Hall Court, pleaded guilty to common assault and ABH and was sentenced to 11 months in prison, suspended for two years.

All must abide by a nightly curfew and were made the subject of restraining orders banning them from contacting or approaching Mr Whitfield for 10 years.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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