Three gang members who took part in a mob attack on a vulnerable man, fracturing his skull, have been given custodial sentences totalling almost 15 years.
Majid Ali, 20, Syed Amar Shah, 18, and 16-year-old Mubashaer Ali were among a group of yobs who hurled stones and bricks at Matthew Ellis.
Mr Ellis, 41, whom Bradford Crown Court heard had significant mental illness, needed brain surgery after he was hit on the head with a rock. He also suffered a fractured arm.
The court was told he had been on his way home after spending the day metal detecting when he was attacked on a path near to Frizinghall Community Centre in Bradford in April last year.
After being hit by the stones, Mr Ellis was then struck on the arm with his own metal detector by Shah.
Locking up the three defendants yesterday, Judge Jonathan Rose described it as “appalling pack violence”.
He said: “It is only a matter of good fortune you were not facing a charge, at the very least, of manslaughter because there was every chance Matthew Ellis could have been killed by one or more of the rocks thrown at him with great force, lobbed through the air and raining down upon him.”
Lifting reporting restrictions so that Mubashaer Ali could be named, Judge Rose said he had never come across such a case and added: “The interests of justice require that all those involved, as criminals, should be named.”
Mr Ellis was attacked by a gang of youths, among them the three defendants, on Easter Monday last year. At the time Majid Ali was 18, Shah was 16, and Mubashaer Ali only 14.
The court heard Mr Ellis was detained in hospital for four days during which his skull was opened up and staples inserted. He was physically and psychologically scarred and also had a metal plate inserted in his arm. He had made a good recovery and had been magnanimous about the defendants.
Majid Ali, of Aireville Road, Frizinghall, and Mubashaer Ali, of Beamsley Road, Frizinghall, had pleaded not guilty to wounding with intent, but were convicted by a jury. Shah, of Lynthorne Road, Frizinghall, pleaded guilty during the trial.
Judge Rose described the attack as “grave, serious, horrendous and unpleasant”.
He said: “It was mob violence against a wholly innnocent and vulnerable man, without any justification or mitigation, and represents an affront to society, to decent law-abiding citizens.”
The judge said custodial sentences would act as a deterrent to others who would “commit acts of thuggery such as this in the future”.
Sentencing Shah, who did not throw stones but encouraged others, to six years youth custody, Judge Rose said: “I regard you as a vicious and violent young man.”
He jailed Majid Ali – who told a probation officer that race was a factor behind the offence – for six years, telling him he had brought shame on his community and family.
He said Mubashaer Ali was an integral part in the stoning of an innocent man. He was sentenced to two and a half years’ detention.
Judge Rose commended eight-year-old twin brothers who witnessed the incident and alerted their mother, identified two of the defendants and gave evidence in the trial. He said they were the principle reason the defendants had been brought to justice and they had a great sense of civic responsibility. “Their mother is right to be proud. They are a credit to her.”
Shah’s barrister, Mohammed Nawaz, said he had pleaded guilty and was genuinely remorseful. He did not accept there was a racist element to the attack.
Sarah Dodd, for Majid Ali, said he was a naive young man who had behaved badly in the company of others.
Tariq Rehman, representing Mubashaer Ali, emphasised he was only 14 at the time. A psychiatrist had found he had borderline learning difficulties and had a history of problems from an early age.
After the case, Detective Constable Jim Singleton, of Airedale and North Bradford CID, said: “We welcome the sentences of these individuals and hope this sends a strong message that this type of behaviour is rightly regarded as repugnant and will not be tolerated.
“In this case a vulnerable victim was targeted and received serious injuries from which he has shown real courage to recover and help us bring this case forward.
“We also want to acknowledge the bravery of two young witnesses in this case who were commended by the judge for doing the right thing and giving evidence to help secure justice.”