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Court blunder allows Richmond assault yob to dodge prison
A YOB who attacked a teenager and walked free after a court blunder was yesterday (Monday, November 26) told by a judge: “You've had a result.”
Sean Lennon was facing prison because of his violent past after he admitted punching and kicking his victim.
The 21-year-old denied the November 18 assault was racially-motivated and stood trial with friend, Michael Birdsall, 23.
A Teesside Crown Court jury found them not guilty of racially-aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
But because of a mix-up, the charge of simple ABH – which they had confessed to – was never given to the jury to consider.
The result was that Lennon dodged jail even though his barrister said: “He fully anticipated he would be sent to prison.”
Nigel Soppitt, mitigating, told Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC: “He understands quite fully he has had a good result.”
Birdsall had also admitted ABH – but, like Lennon, not at a formal hearing – and he, too, escaped punishment.
He also pleaded guilty to a common assault on another teenager at the scene, and was given a two-year conditional discharge.
Jobless Lennon received a two-year bind over and must forfeit £250 if he offends again during that period.
Judge Bourne-Arton told him: “You know why there has been a slight problem with the indictment. The result is, you acknowledge, you've had a result.”
Birsdall, a tree surgeon, of Earl Edwin Drive, Richmond, North Yorkshire, was also ordered to pay £250 court costs.
His barrister, Joanne Kidd, said he would comply with any order, and added: “He fully accepts he deserves to be punished.”
Prosecutor John Boumphrey said: “Everyone proceeded on the basis that the actual bodily harm had been properly pleaded to.
“Subsequent inquiries into the law showed that it had not been properly pleaded to. I have to accept it is the Crown's responsibility."
Mr Soppitt said: “I have to accept that the trial was run by us all on the basis that the two defendants were admitting the Section 47 (ABH).
“But both denied, emphatically, that there was a racial element to it.”
The judge told the lawyers: “I have absolutely no doubt this was unintentional...and it has had unfortunate consequences, but not necessarily for the defendants."
Mr Boumphrey said the assault happened in Richmond and the 17-year-old victim had been subjected to “racial epithets”.
The court heard Lennon had since moved to Prestwick, Ayrshire, for “a new life”.