A VIGILANTE gang beat up a vulnerable man in his home after accusing him of being a paedophile.
At Bolton Crown Court, Brian Cooper was jailed for a year, while Patricia Roberts and Paul Tong were each given suspended prison sentences after pleading guilty to causing actual bodily harm to the man at his house in Farnworth.
The court was told how Roberts had gone to the victim’s house on September 2 last year believing her son was inside the property.
Jane Dagnall, prosecuting, said: “Miss Roberts turned up at his address shouting ‘if you’re in there open this door, open this door you paedophile, open the ****ing door.’
“She was banging on the door and the window and was then joined by Mr Cooper who started banging on the window.”
Then 31-year-old Tong pulled up outside the house, with Roberts’ seven-year-old son in his car.
Mrs Dagnall said that, despite this, the three adults continued to attack the house, with Tong then kicking the door off its hinges and causing £500 worth of damage.
Cooper and Roberts rushed into the house and a neighbour, who had heard the shouting and banging, called the police.
Mrs Dagnall said: “Miss Roberts went in the living room and started punching the victim seven or eight times in the head.
“Mr Cooper then punched him hard to the right hand side of his head causing him to fall backwards on to the sofa.”
The victim was taken to hospital where he was treated for a fractured cheek bone and bruises and cuts.
Cooper, aged 40, and Roberts, 40, both of Starcliffe Street, Farnworth and Tong, of Ainsworth Road, Little Lever, all pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm.
Martin Pizzey, defending Roberts, said that on the day of the attack she was at work and had left her son with a babysitter. But when she called later in the day she discovered that he was missing.
He said: “It is unusual circumstances that led to her being at this man’s house. It has been mentioned that this could be viewed as a vigilante attack on a vulnerable person, but so far as Miss Roberts was concerned she was under the impression at the time that her child was still in that building.
“At no point was she told that he was in the car with Mr Tong. It is a regrettable misunderstanding as the information she received from the babysitter was mistaken.”
The court heard that she was told by the babysitter that her son had gone to the house, where it was claimed the man had been giving children sweets and small amounts of money.
Mr Pizzey added: “She fully accepts her responsibility and that her reaction was inappropriate and if she could turn back time she would. However, her behaviour could be described as maternal protective instinct — but sadly reason went out of the window.”
Marianne Alton, defending Cooper, said that there was no premeditation in the attack.
She said: “They went there looking for answers as to where Miss Roberts’ son was — there was no intention of assaulting the victim. The victim did not open the door and she was still looking for answers and the events escalated out of control.”
Sentencing Cooper to 12 months in jail, Recorder Simon Killeen told him: “The reality is that you had turned up at his (the victim’s) house and Mr Tong turned up with Miss Roberts’ son in his car and the man was not a danger to anybody.
“Instead of contacting the police and behaving civilly, you acted like a group of thugs.
“At some point you must have realised that you were deliberately targeting this man and you were all part of that group.
“It was an act of terror towards a vulnerable man in his own home.”
Recorder Killeen added that Cooper’s “appalling” previous record was an aggravating feature in his case and as the defendant was led from the dock he punched a wall.
The judge said Tong had a “limited role” in the incident and he was given an eight month jail sentence suspended for two years.
He was also given 100 hours unpaid work and will have to wear an electronic tag for two months as part of a 6pm to 6am curfew.
Roberts was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years and Recorder Killeen told her: “This is totally out of character and it’s obvious from when you left the house with your head in your hands saying ‘what on earth have I done’ that you were remorseful.”
She must also carry out 150 hours unpaid work and will be subject to a 7pm to 7am curfew, wearing an electronic tag, for two months.