A FORMER soldier has been jailed for five-and-a-half years over a “gratuitous” attack on a couple walking home on New Years’ day.
Andrew Dowsett broke Michael Ross’s jaw in two places, fractured his nose and left him needing surgery to have metal plates fitted into his face after he was stamped on.
The 22-year-old ex gunner, of Richard Street, Hetton, kicked Mr Ross’s girlfriend Katie Olaman in the face twice during the violent onslaught, which was sparked without reason on the pair, who were strangers to him.
Mr Recorder David Wilby QC said: “It was totally unnecessary, gratuitous and totally unnecessary violence.
“There was absolutely no need for this.
“This man’s mouth was so badly injured that he couldn’t speak.”
Prosecutor Emma Dowling told the court the victims had been walking home from Mr Ross’s sister’s house in Washington in the early hours of January 1 last year when they were attacked on an isolated stretch of old railway line.
The court heard it was Victoria Kingsbury, who was walking along the same stretch of wasteland with Dowsett, who threw the first punch at Miss Olaman and they ended up on the ground.
Miss Dowling said: “Miss Kingsbury, she recalled, was on top of her for the majority of the assault.
“She was on the floor with Miss Kingsbury on top of her and she looked to her side and saw Mr Dowsett assaulting her boyfriend Mr Ross.
“She described Dowsett stamping at least twice on Mr Ross’s head.
“She said Michael was lying on the floor not moving, she couldn’t tell whether he was unconscious or simply could not get up.
“She described hearing a bubbling noise coming from him.”
The court heard the two attackers appeared to walk away “cocky” but Dowsett then came back and continued the violence.
Miss Dowling said: “Miss Olaman can remember Mr Dowsett coming back and recalls he kicked her in the face and called her an offensive name.
“She thought he tried to spit at her.
“She had her hands over her face and she heard him move away from her.
“She moved her hands to see he had again stamped on Mr Ross’s head.
“He then kicked her again, to the right side of the head.”
Miss Olaman was left with a cut to her eye and bruising to her neck.
Nissan worker Mr Ross had to eat soft food for three to four months after the attack and needed time off work.
Dowsett was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and assault after a trial.
Kingsbury, 33, of Tynedale Street, Hetton, admitted assault. She was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
Nicholas Lane, defending Dowsett, handed in a stack of references to his otherwise positive character and said the former soldier’s ambition to join the royal marines has been shattered by his own behaviour.
Jane Foley, also defending, said the violence was not premeditated and said Kingsbury has been diagnosed with a serious health problem that requires surgery.
Speaking after the case Detective Inspector Paul Woods said: “This was an unprovoked attack on two people who were simply out celebrating the New Year. I welcome the sentences today which show how seriously incidents of this nature are taken.”