Three jailed for 'dreadful' attack on man wrongly believed to be a paedophile (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Three jailed for 'dreadful' attack on man wrongly believed to be a paedophile
A vulnerable man was stabbed, stamped on and scalded with boiling water during a booze and drug-fuelled attack by three friends who wrongly believed he was a paedophile, a court heard.
Michael Merritt, 51, was left with five knife wounds, burns to his face, ears and hands and a broken wrist after the “dreadful and prolonged” ordeal at the hands of two women and a man, who were jailed for a total of more than 11 years at Bradford Crown Court yesterday.
Jonathan Sharp, prosecuting, said Mr Merritt, who has mental health problems and a history of alcohol abuse, had been drinking with friend Deborah Hogg, 50, and acquaintances Emma Stott, 42, and Christopher Edwards, 33, at Hogg’s home in St Mary’s Road, Heaton, on July 6 last year.
The court heard how the previous day, during a conversation while drinking and taking crack cocaine, a friend of Hogg’s had accused Mr Merritt of being a paedophile – an allegation that was “unjustified.” He had also been threatened with a knife.
Mr Sharp said the following day “there was some sort of righteous indignation towards the victim, no doubt fuelled through more drinks and class A drugs”.
At around 6pm, the barrister told the court the mood at Hogg’s flat had become ‘lively’ and Hogg was heard to accuse Mr Merritt of having a picture of a child.
By 12.30am, the “anger” that had been building during the day “burst out into explosive violence”, he said.
He said: “We know that Hogg, Stott and Edwards were all in the flat and that earlier in the evening Mr Merritt was uninjured. But by the time paramedics were called at 12.30am, the complainant had been seriously injured with both a kitchen knife and badly burnt to the face, ears and hands.”
Mr Merritt was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary where he received treatment for five stab wounds. He also needed surgery to repair a tendon in a finger, suffered a broken wrist and was treated for burns.
Hogg admitted wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm by stabbing him twice and accidentally pouring boiling water over him.
Stott and Edwards, who were partners at the time, pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding.
Mohammed Hussain, mitigating for Hogg, said she had been “provoked” by Mr Merritt touching her inappropriately on the evening, despite her previously telling him she only wanted to be friends with him.
Emma Downing, for Stott, of Roydon Grove, Heaton, said her client was remorseful and had been taking part in an alcohol detox programme while on remand in prison. Jeremy Lindsay, for Edwards, of Burr Road, Heaton, said his client’s involvement had been limited to his presence during the attack.
Sentencing Hogg to six years and nine months in prison, and jailing Stott and Edwards for two years and three months each, Judge Colin Burn said Mr Merritt “must have feared for his life” during the incident.
“Mr Merritt, who was a vulnerable person, was accused baselessly of being a paedophile and then seriously assaulted by those he trusted significantly well to get drunk with and on the fact of it take drugs with.
“It was a dreadful and prolonged attack.”