FOUR young thugs who battered a teenager amid a posh “turf war” have been spared jail after their lawyers told a judge they wouldn’t cope in prison.
Kieran Clifton, 19, dragged the 17-year-old victim out of his car in March last year before yob cronies Se Smith, 18, Daniel Clifford, 22, and Joshua Campbell, 19, attacked him while screaming “you’re going to be unrecognisable after this” and “do you want me to stab you?”
The four yobs, from Oxfordshire, all arrived at court in smart shirts and listened as their lawyers battled to keep them out of jail.
The victim was not even known to his attackers but they recognised him as being one of the “Thame lot” and they were told that he was due to arrive on their turf at the Co-Op in upmarket Watlington.
The court was also told Clifton believed his four-year relationship with his first “proper” girlfriend had been broken up because of the victim.
He rushed to his suspected love rival’s car as it rolled into the Co-Op car park and screamed: “Get out of the f***ing car! I am going to smash your head in.”
Jane Brady, defending Clifton, who had led the assault and admitted a charge of causing actual bodily harm, said: “It is fair to say he is absolutely terrified of going inside.
“His mother would have concerns about her son’s ability to cope in such an environment.”
This is a young man who now, without a shadow of a doubt, looking back on that night, absolutely regrets the decisions that were taken and what unfolded.
Smith's lawyer Kellie Enever
Judge Nigel Daly was told the other three men, who all admitted affray, had no previous convictions and their defence lawyers gave a litany of examples which they said showed their clients had tried to mend their ways since the attack.
Sean Smith, defending Clifford, claimed his client had a substance abuse problem and had been spending £400 a week on cocaine and cannabis, but was Clifford for the previous two weeks before the sentencing.
The defence team for Campbell, who was convicted of assaulting two police officers later in the same night, asked Judge Daly not to impose a rehabilitation requirement on his client, saying: “He feels rehabilitated already.”
Kellie Enever, representing Smith, said: “This is a young man who now, without a shadow of a doubt, looking back on that night, absolutely regrets the decisions that were taken and what unfolded.”
The judge told group at Oxford Crown Court: “This is a group incident on a single young man who was totally unable to protect himself.
“He was dragged from a car, kicked and punched and suffered significant injury – bruising, damage to his teeth, needed to be on crutches for a week.
You better mend your ways. It has been 18 months since this has happened. It would appear that each of you stands to have a good chance at rehabilitation. This has been your last chance. Appear before me again and you know exactly where you’re going.
Judge Nigel Daly
“For some reason, this young man was deliberately targeted. Perhaps because he came from Thame and you four came from Watlington and there had been bad blood between the two factions.”
The court heard the four youths downed Amaretto-based spirits at the Fat Fox pub in Watlington, Oxon, before the attack in March last year.
Judge Daly said to Clifton: “You accepted being significantly involved in violence, you played a leading role in what went on. You have not accepted that you have any issues with drinking. Drink, in my view, played a significant part.
“Drinking Coca Cola and Amaretto? I’m surprised you were not sick!”
The judge sentenced Clifton to a 12 month jail term, suspended for 12 months, with a 15-day rehabilitation requirement, unpaid work of 160 hours and ordered him to pay £750 compensation.
Clifford and Campbell, who lived on a farm in Radnage, were both handed suspended sentences of 12 months with a 10-day rehabilitation requirement, 120 hours unpaid work and £750 compensation.
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Smith received an eight month suspended sentence, 100 hours unpaid work as well as being made subject to a curfew for three months and ordered to pay £750 compensation.
Judge Daly told them: “You better mend your ways. It has been 18 months since this has happened. It would appear that each of you stands to have a good chance at rehabilitation.
“This has been your last chance. Appear before me again and you know exactly where you’re going.”
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