A man launched a surprise attack on two people using a cycle path, punching and stamping on his victims causing a catalogue of ugly injuries. One of Jamie Thomas' victims suffered a broken arm and lost a number of teeth in the assault while the other was left with a fractured cheekbone.
Thomas, 31, has a history of violent offending including taking part in a group attack on a man in the street and assaulting a partner by butting her and shoving his fist into her mouth. Swansea Crown Court heard that on September 17 last year friends Shane Cooper and Richard Evans were walking on the cycle path which runs parallel to the M4 at the top end of Skewen when, without warning, Thomas attacked them from behind. Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, said Mr Cooper, who was walking slightly behind his companion, felt a number of powerful blows to his head which caused him to stumble to the ground. The defendant then began to kick his victim as he lay on the floor and continued to punch him.
The court heard Mr Evans turned around to see his friend curled up on the cycle path in the foetal position and saw Thomas stamping on the defenceless man. Thomas then turned his attention to Mr Evans – punching him in the face and warning him he would kill him if he contacted the police. The two victims managed to flee and called an ambulance but due to the long wait ended up being driven to hospital by a family member.
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The court heard Mr Cooper suffered a broken arm which needed surgery to fit a metal plate and screws. He also had facial injuries and lost a number of teeth. Mr Evans was left with a fractured cheek. Two weeks after the assault Thomas handed himself into a police station but then gave a "no comment" interview to officers.
In his victim impact statement Mr Cooper said he had to have four teeth removed as a result of the attack and though his arm was healing it was still painful. He said since the assault he "doesn't feel like himself any more". In his statement Mr Evans said he struggled to sleep due to pain in his neck and jaw and said he doesn't feel like going out anymore.
Jamie Michael Thomas, of Cwrt y Clafdy, Skewen, Neath, pleaded guilty to two counts of inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH) when he appeared in the dock. He has a previous conviction for GBH for an assault in a Neath street which left the victim with a broken nose and jaw and suspected bleeding on the brain and two for assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) – one involved a gang attack on a man on a Neath street when the victim was repeatedly kicked and punched and the other saw Thomas butting his then-partner in the face, grabbing her by the throat, and shoving his fist into her mouth while threatening to "gag" her. He also has convictions for assaulting a police officer and for a public order matter.
Ian Wright, for Thomas, described his client as a "paradox" and said it was hard to reconcile the facts of the cycle path assault with the supportive character references and positive prison report detailing the defendant's time being held on remand awaiting sentence. He said Thomas accepted that alcohol had been a problem in the past and he was now completing the 12-step programme in prison before embarking on mentoring courses. The barrister said it was clear from references before the court that Thomas was an "industrious and hardworking man" and said the defendant realised his behaviour had "set him back considerably" with regard to his children with whom he was enjoying regular contact before going into custody.
Judge Geraint Walters said Thomas had gone "berserk" on the day in question and punched Mr Cooper "mercilessly" – apparently over "some perceived grievance" with his victim. He said Mr Wright had been right in using the word paradox in regard to the defendant and said there was clearly a side to Thomas which did not fit with all the positive things he had read about him. The judge told Thomas he needs to grow up and think about the impact of what he is doing on his children.
Turning to sentencing the judge said in his view the five-year maximum sentence for GBH was far too low but it was his job to implement the law not make it. With a 20% discount for his guilty pleas Thomas was sentenced to two years in prison comprising 18 months for the assault on Mr Cooper and six months for the assault on Mr Evans with the sentences to run consecutively.
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