‘Why’s my disabled son’s attacker not in jail?’

WALKING FREE ... Natasha Dambers avoided jail for her part in a horrible assault on a man with learning difficulties.

WALKING FREE ... Natasha Dambers avoided jail for her part in a horrible assault on a man with learning difficulties.

THE family of a man with learning difficulties who was subjected to a “despicable and mean” late-night odeal have branded the sentence imposed on one of his female attackers as “a disgrace”.

Natasha Dambers, 25, punched her 30-year-old victim, who has a mental age of just seven or eight, twice – smashing his glasses and then bit him on the ear.

The brutal assault happened when the man tried to intervene between what he thought was a row between Dambers and a 17-year-old friend at the Keppel Street bus station, in South Shields, shortly before midnight on Tuesday, January 14.

Magistrates were told yesterday that Dambers, 25, pinned him against a wall before striking him twice and pulling out his earphones.

Dambers, of Richardson Avenue, South Shields, who pleaded guilty to common assault last month, was sentenced to a 20-week suspended prison sentence when she appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The victim’s father said: “It’s just a disgrace she’s not behind bars. My son, despite his difficulties, had the confidence to go out. Now, because of what she did, he has been stripped of that.

“How can she not have been jailed?

“The police might have well just let her go. It’s an absolute disgrace. It has been a few weeks since my son was attacked and he is still terrified to go out.”

CCTV footage of the shocking attack, in which the victim does not attempt to fight back while being struck, was shown to the court.

Her friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also punched the man once, and was last week given an 18-month youth rehabilitation order at a youth court for her part in the offence.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, told the court yesterday that the victim is categorised as vulnerable, has learning difficulties and suffers from psychosis.

She said: “She punched him in the face, bit him on the left ear and punched him in the middle of the face, causing his glasses to be broken.

“She pulled the earphones from his head, causing them to break. He suffered a cut to the left ear and reddening to the cheek.”

Valerie Bell, defending, said: “Miss Dambers did enter a guilty plea immediately and I would ask for her to be given full credit for that. She had gone out and had far too much to drink.

“As she knew she would be drinking, she hadn’t taken her anti-psychotic medication.

“She doesn’t recall what had been going on but she has seen the footage and is genuinely ashamed over what happened that night.

“She had no idea about the vulnerability of the injured party.”

District Judge Helen Cousins told Dambers: “This was a horrible, mean offence. It clearly passes the custody threshold. You were picking on someone who in my view is obviously vulnerable.

“Whether you were in drink or not, this was despicable and is deserving of a custodial sentence.

“There will be a custodial sentence of 20 weeks, however it will be suspended. The reason I am doing this is because that custody sentence would’ve been over in 10 weeks.

“A suspended sentence will be hanging over you for a long time to come and I feel that will be more onerous for you than immediate custody.

“I am also giving you credit for pleading guilty and I feel the remorse you have shown is genuine.

“If you had pleaded not guilty, I would have sent you straight to prison.”

Dambers was also given an 18-month community supervision order, an eight-week curfew from 9pm to 7am and was ordered to pay compensation to the victim of £250.



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