Jail for thug who punched and stamped on vulnerable victim in 'brutal' and 'cowardly' attack

A vicious thug who stamped on and punched a vulnerable man in an unprovoked ‘brutal’ and ‘cowardly’ street attack has been jailed.

Durham Crown Court heard Darren Yates had repeatedly punched his victim in the head after jumping out of his car in Seaham town centre on Wednesday, July 20.

The man, who had been sitting on a bench at the time, fell to the floor unconscious but Yates continued his attack, stamping on him and punching him again.

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The victim, who had suffered brain injuries following a heart attack in 2019, was taken to hospital where he was treated for a brain contusion, potential haemorrhage, abrasions, bruising and swelling to the scalp and lip.

The man was left afraid to go out on his own and has had trouble sleeping since the attack.

Durham Constabulary officers identified Yates on CCTV and arrested him at his home in Essex Crescent, Seaham, later that evening. He has been remanded in custody since.

The 39-year-old, of Essex Crescent, Seaham, subsequently admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He appeared for sentencing on Friday, September 23.

The court heard Yates had 27 previous convictions for 57 offences, including some for violence which had resulted in previous custodial sentences

Darren Yates
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Judge James Adkin told Yates his actions had been ‘brutal’ and ‘cowardly’ and sentenced him to an extended determinate sentence – which combines a custodial sentence and an extended period on licence – with six years in custody, of which he must serve two-thirds before being eligible for release by the Parole Board.

On his release he will also be subject to an extended licence period of three years.

PC Ashley Hagar, of Peterlee CID, welcomed the sentence: “This was a ruthless attack on a vulnerable victim, leaving him hospitalised with serious injuries,” he said.

“I am glad that he will be spending a significant amount of time in prison, where he belongs. He has rightly been classed as a dangerous offender and I hope that he is able to reflect on his actions and understand how shocking his behaviour was.

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“The victim has been immensely brave throughout the whole process and we hope he can now start to rebuild his life.”