Pair had been 'on a bender' before robbing man near Sunderland Aldi store in racially aggravated attack

Two men have locked up for robbing a man in a Sunderland street in a racially aggravated attack.

Sunday, 16th April 2017, 5:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:31 pm
The victim was waiting for this Aldi store to open when he was attacked at 9.30am on a Sunday morning. Pic: Google Maps.
The victim was waiting for this Aldi store to open when he was attacked at 9.30am on a Sunday morning. Pic: Google Maps.

Bradley Finn, 18, and Jamie Freeman, 31, approached the victim while he was waiting outside the Aldi supermarket in St Mark's Road, Millfield, for the store to open.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the pair asked him for drugs before aiming racial abuse at him and telling him to "go back to your own country" when he said he didn't have any.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, told the court how the victim decided to leave and return to the shop later that day after he got the impression they were "not nice guys by their behaviour".

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While Finn and Freeman asked why they could not gain entry to the supermarket before it had opened, the victim decided to start walking home.

But he was attacked from behind by Finn, who caught up to him and struck him with two blows to the head, leaving him face down on the floor.

The court heard how Finn searched through the victim's bag while Freeman kicked him in the head.

Mr Perks told the court: "He (Freeman) kicked out again, then bent over and punched him several times to the head.

"He finished his assault by stamping on the head or neck area of the victim as he was face down on the floor."

The victim, who struggled to get up off the ground, was left with bad bruises to his head and was unable to open his left eye.

He had his Samsung S7 contract mobile phone, worth £700, taken from him as well as his satchel bag, his wallet, containing £45 in cash and bank cards, and his driving licence and earphones.

His glasses, worth £65, were also broken during the attack.

In a statement read to the court by Mr Perks, the victim said: "I feel completely devastated by the robbery. It's not reflective of anything I have experienced before, I'm in absolute shock.

"It was so violent. I was just lying there trying to protect my head, wanting it to stop."

Mr Perks told the court how the victim claimed throughout the attack the pair were still racially abusing the victim.

He also said the man did not know how many times he was kicked and punched him as there were "too many".

Finn, of Skipsea View, Ryhope, and Freeman, of St Luke's Road, Ford Estate, both Sunderland, were identified by CCTV and handed themselves in to the police.

Officers, who had been looking for Finn in relation to driving offences, also charged him with dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance.

Freeman admitted robbery and breaching a suspended sentence.

Finn pleaded guilty to robbery, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance.

Vic Liffey, defending Finn, said: "He can't remember an awful lot about it.

"He is someone who dabbles with drugs and rarely drinks, but he had mixed the two the night before, that's why he was in a state the morning after.

"He struck two blows to the unfortunate gentleman that knocked him to the ground.

"He appears to be picking up and going through the back-pack that was taken from him.

"He doesn't appear to be involved in any kicking, but he accepts this is a joint enterprise and makes no issue of that.

"As for the racial element involved, while I'm not in any way minimising what is a very serious offence, this man was robbed as he happened to be the person who was there. He wasn't robbed because of the colour of his skin.

"It's accepted there was abuse, that's not disputed at all, but the robbery didn't take place because he had black skin, it was because it was 9.30am on a Sunday morning and there was no one else around."

Tony Hawks, defending Freeman, told the court: "The two men had been on what's known as 'a bender', and Mr Freeman had been drinking for about three days. He's got a drink problem.

"These are not two men who went out to commit a robbery, they certainly weren't out to pick on black people.

"It just so happened that the unfortunate victim was in the area at the supermarket at the same time.

"He can't remember a great deal about it. He rushed straight in and attacked the man.

"The robbery seems to be something of an afterthought. It's a nasty and unpleasant offence."

Judge Sarah Mallett told Finn and Freeman: "The victim decided to leave and come back later.

"As he was walking, totally minding his own business, he was attacked from behind.

"He was punched, kicked and stamped on in an attack by you both. The worst of the violence was by you Freeman.

"I accept that this was a spur of the moment offence."

Judge Mallett told the Finn and Freeman that the offence was aggravated by racism and their sentences would be uplifted to effect that.

She sentenced Freeman to five years in prison, and Finn to three years and 10 months in a young offenders# institution.

Finn was also disqualified from driving for 41 months.