No jail for Leamington teen who assaulted two people in 15 days

Brandon Downes
Brandon Downes
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An 18-year-old who carried out two unprovoked assaults in the space of 15 days has walked away with a suspended sentence.

Brandon Downes of Windmill Road, Leamington, had pleaded guilty to charges of assault by beating and inflicting grievous bodily harm.

At Warwick Crown Court he was sentenced to 12 months detention suspended for two years and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and to take part in a rehabilitation activity.

Prosecutor Ian Windridge said that on December 10 Aaron Gillatt was walking up the Parade in Leamington at around 6.30pm when he was approached by Downes near the McDonalds restaurant.

“There was a punch with a clenched fist to his jaw, causing him to go to the floor.”

The 18-year-old said Downes then grabbed him and pulled him back to his feet before getting him in a ‘choke hold’ from which he broke free and ran to a nearby bus and got on.

Mr Windridge pointed out that although Downes, who made no comment when he was later arrested, accepts throwing the punch, he did not accept the second part of the incident.

Fifteen days later, during the early evening on Christmas Day, Ben Taylor and a friend were walking towards the Pump Room Gardens in Leamington when they saw a group on the other side of the road.

The larger group crossed the road towards them, and Mr Taylor recognised one of the girls, Downes’s girlfriend, who he knew from when they were at the same school.

Comments were made towards Mr Taylor and his friend, and four young men from the larger group moved towards them.

“Downes then stepped forward and punched Mr Taylor once to the face, catching him to the jaw, and he fell back and hit his head on the pavement. He didn’t know the punch was coming.”

Recorder Christopher Donnellan QC observed that witnesses did not describe him making any effort to break his fall, which suggested he may already have been unconscious from the blow, even before hitting his head on the ground.

Mr Taylor was rushed to hospital where he was found to have suffered multiple fractures to his skull, a ‘significant cut’ to the back of his head, and a cut inside his mouth.

When Downes was arrested and interviewed, he said he and his friends had been out looking for somewhere to have a drink, but could not find a pub that was open, so had gone to an Indian restaurant where they had had some food and alcohol.

He claimed the ‘two lads’ had turned and said something, but blamed someone else in his group for the blow.

Alex Pritchard-Jones, defending, conceded there was ‘little mitigation’ for the offences themselves, other than that each one had been a single blow which ‘lacked premeditation.’

But Recorder Donnellan retorted: “A group of four follow them, and Mr Downes steps out from the group and lands the blow. There may not have been a great deal of planning, but no premeditation?”

Of Downes, Mr Pritchard-Jones said: “He is scared of an immediate custodial sentence. He very, very much regrets his actions, and asks me to tell the court how sorry he is.

“While not the sole carer, he has had a significant role in assisting his father in caring for his younger brother. His mother served a custodial sentence, so he took on a caring role within the household.”

Recorder Donnellan told Downes: “Mr Taylor and his friend were minding their own business, going to a party, when others who were with you made you aware of their presence.

“You went up to him and hit him so hard that not only did you injure his jaw but, because of the blow and unable to defend himself, he fell to the ground and hit his head.

“Those sorts of blows sadly often kill. Fortunately Ben Taylor was able to regain consciousness fairly quickly, and you did not follow up your attack.

“But he suffered from this unprovoked attack by you a fractured skull and bruising on his brain, and he also had a nasty wound down the back of his head.

“I am concerned whether there is real remorse in your case, but you have no previous convictions, I am going to give you this chance. You won’t get another one.”