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Shildon teenager sentenced to seven years for 'contract kicking' over £80 debt
A TEENAGER has been jailed for seven years after carrying out a "contract kicking" on a partially blind man over an alleged £80 debt.
Jack Craig Gray never received the £150 he was promised to attack the vulnerable victim - repeatedly punched and kicked until he lost consciousness.
The 30-year-old man, who is registered blind, underwent protracted facial surgery and is still receiving hospital treatment four months after the attack in Shildon, County Durham.
Durham Crown Court heard 18-year-old Gray was "put up" to the punishment beating by older companions.
Christine Egerton, prosecuting, said both Gray and his victim, who did not know each other, were among several people at a mutual friend's house on June 3.
Fearing he would be attacked, the man left but was followed and cornered in an alleyway by Gray, who was joined by a second person.
"The defendant put his hands on his chest and mentioned the £80 he owed, before punching him around four times about the face with a clenched fist.
"He fell forwards bleeding and was then repeatedly kicked, although the other person present may have also been involved."
After the victim regained consciousness, he reached home and rang for an ambulance.
Miss Egerton said he suffered several fractures to facial and nasal bones, plus multiple swellings and abrasions.
"He was already registered blind due to poor vision in both eyes, but it was feared he may not recover sight in his right eye which is now much worse, although it is hoped his nose can be rebuilt.
"He has now moved back in with his mother and is fearful being out on his own.
"He spoke of having done nothing at all to encourage this and was at a loss why the person attacked him."
Gray initially denied responsibility but was picked him out at a video identity parade. The other assailant was not identified.
Gray, of Fir Tree, Shildon, admitted grievous bodily harm with intent at a previous hearing.
John Turner, for Gray, said: "He tells me he was directed by someone a lot older and more sophisticated to go and speak to this man about the debt.
"He accepted throwing three to four punches and a kick when he went to ground, but he then moved away and the other man may have then continued the assault.
"My client is almost being cast as an enforcer for a local gang. He denies that.
"He says he did this in the expectation he would receive payment. A figure of £150 was mentioned, but, as it happens, he received nothing.
Imposing the seven year detention in a young offenders' institution, Recorder Ben Nolan told Gray: "This might be described as a 'contract kicking' to enforce a debt.
"It matters not that others, older, may have been behind this.
"The fact is you took part in what was a serious plan to enforce this debt by violence, with grave consequences for the victim."
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