Pubgoer feared he would be kicked to death during pair’s drunken attack

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A YOUNG pubgoer feared he might die when he was punched to the floor and kicked in the head by two drunken attackers, a court heard.

Joseph Mitchell, 24, was in the smoking area outside The Moorings, Sowerby Bridge when Christopher Kelliher, 29, and Terrance Thornton, 23, set upon him.

Andrew Kershaw, prosecuting, told Bradford Crown Court Kelliher started the trouble and punched Mr Mitchell three times to the face, knocking him to the floor.

Thornton then joined in and kicked him in the head. He then punched Mr Mitchell’s friend David Fearnley when he tried to intervene.

Mr Kershaw told the court: “Kelliher decided to pick on Joseph Mitchell, who was unknown to him, and shouted threats at him.

“He took off his wrist watch and gave it to Thornton before punching several blows to the face.

“Thornton then delivered several kicks to his face and head area and attempted to stamp on him.”

Mr Mitchell was taken to hospital where he needed stitches to 2cm gashes below each eye, leaving permanent scarring.

Afterwards he suffered headaches so severe he later returned to hospital for a brain scan.

In a victim impact statement, he described feeling anxious and depressed after the attack and being too afraid to go out and socialise.

Reading it to the court, Mr Kershaw said: “He feared the men would have kicked him to death if they hadn’t been interrupted and fled.”

Thornton, of Hill Cross Drive, Queensbury, and Kelliher, of Dale Terrace, Sowerby Bridge, both admitted unlawfully wounding Mr Mitchell.

Thornton also admitted assaulting Mr Fearnley, occasioning actual bodily harm.

Both defendants had no previous convictions.

Peter Hampton, for Thornton, said: “He’s genuinely remorseful and knows he must be punished. He knows the kicking on the ground is unforgivable and shameful.”

Ian Howard, for Kelliher, said there had been a confrontation prior to the attack.

“Mr Kelliher says he hit the complainant but as soon as he’d done that he set about walking away,” he said.

“He didn’t embark upon a joint attack on the complainant, nor did he seek to muster the support of others. “That his co-accused got involved was not by his design.”

Thornton was jailed for nine months for his part in the vicious assault, which happened on March 18 last year.

Kelliher was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 250 hours’ unpaid work. He must also pay his victim £1,500 compensation, plus £500 court costs.

Judge Peter Benson told the pair their conduct had been disgraceful.

He told Thornton: “Anybody that behaves as you did, that kicks a defenceless person in the face and around the head whilst he’s lying on the ground must expect an immediate custodial sentence.”