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Lee wells 1

A HOMELESS man attacked a worker going home from a Christmas party so severely his face had to be reconstructed.

Nineteen-year-old Lee Wells, who was on bail for brandishing a hammer 10 days earlier, set on 42-year-old Robert Johnson outside the YMCA hostel in Harding Road, Hanley.

The incident occurred in the early hours of December 6 last year as Mr Johnson made his way from The Quality Hotel in Trinity Street.

He was left with a fractured jaw and eye sockets and had to undergo four operations to have plates inserted into his face.

Wells, of no fixed address, who pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm, was sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday.

Paul Spratt, prosecuting, said: “Mr Johnson left the Quality Hotel in Hanley some time after midnight.

“He had no other recollection of the events that occurred except that he was the subject of assault leading to substantial injuries.

“On returning home he realised he had forgotten his keys and left them at the Quality Hotel.”

Mr Johnson then returned by taxi to the hotel, where he collected his keys and set off home again.

Mr Spratt added: “It was at the point that he was walking back from Hanley town centre past the YMCA that the attack occurred. He says he was attacked but has no recollection of the attack as it occurred.”

The court heard Mr Johnson had been left with headaches, numbness in his face and difficulty eating as a result of the incident.

At the time of the attack, Wells was on bail for an incident on November 25 when he was caught with a hammer in Harding Road. On that occasion, he was in the company of two other men who were found with an African-style club and a knife.

He tried to prevent arrest by hiding in a ground floor storeroom of the hostel but was discovered.

Sarah Badrawy, defending, said Wells had experienced a very difficult upbringing. She said: “He had a number of adverse events at a crucial stage in his life.

“He suffered from rejection from both his family and rejection from his foster family.

“It is at that stage he found himself of no fixed abode. He spent his life moving from different friends’ sofas and homeless hostels.”

Referring to two psychiatric reports, Judge Granville Styler said Wells was “very dangerous young man” but said he was limited in his sentencing options.

He imposed a 12-month jail sentence for possessing an offensive weapon and affray, and 30 months consecutively for the grievous bodily harm.

He said: “The public should know that the psychiatric report says he poses a high risk of serious harm to others.”

Stoke Sentinel

Simon Beech and Garreth Foster denied setting fire to the mosque

Simon Beech and Garreth Foster denied setting fire to the mosque

Two men have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of deliberately setting fire to a Stoke-on-Trent mosque.

Ex-soldier Simon Beech, 23, and Garreth Foster, 29, both from Stoke, were found guilty of setting fire to Hanley’s Regent Road mosque on 3 December.

The pair had denied committing arson with intent to endanger life.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard it was in revenge for Muslim extremists burning poppies on Armistice Day.

Beech told the court during the four-day trial that he had been a member of the English Defence League and the British National Party. But he said he was not racist and did not believe his views to be extreme.

‘Nuke all mosques’

Paul Spratt, prosecuting, told the jury of five men and seven women that police had been able to establish that Beech “felt very strongly about Muslims” after accessing his Facebook account.

“He found persons through Facebook who had like-minded views. One observation he plainly agreed with was ‘Nuke All Mosques’.”

The mosque, which was partially built at the time of the fire, had not been fitted out

The jury heard that one of Beech’s online comments read: “The time has come. They burn our poppies, we burn their place. Burn the lot of them out.”

Beech told jurors his views were not aimed at the whole Muslim community but at extremist individuals.

When giving evidence in his defence Foster told the court: “I have always personally got on well with Muslims.

“Throughout all my schools I have always had Asian friends.”

The pair both denied running a pipe into the building from a nearby gas meter in a bid to spark an explosion at the mosque, which suffered about £50,000 damage as a result of the fire.

Community ‘dignified’

Speaking after the verdicts were delivered, Rana Tufail, a member of the mosque committee, said it was “difficult” to describe the arson attack.

He said: “It is a community project.

“They have put their soul into it. They have put their earnings into it and they [Beech and Foster] tried to destroy it.

“We are happy that it’s still standing.”

Ch Supt Bernie O’Rielly, from Staffordshire Police, added that he had no doubts that the pair’s intention was to “blow the mosque up”.

“Without doubt that would have caused hate in the community, division in the community and broken down all the cohesion and good work we do,” he said.

“The community around this area have been an absolute credit. They’ve acted with such restraint and so dignified in the face of such provocation.”

BBC News