NHS volunteer and new mother, 30, and her partner spared prison over attack which left man unconscious

A young couple and their friend have avoided prison after beating a man unconscious during a birthday night out in Scarborough.

Christian Law, 33, his partner Laura Carter, 30, and Law's colleague at a Volkswagen garage Jack Wade, 26, all pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on victim John Kennedy during an altercation which began in a pub in November 2018.

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At York Crown Court on December 29, Judge Sean Morris gave the trio suspended sentences but admitted that they would have faced immediate custody had there not been significant delays to the case, some Covid-related as courtrooms could not safely accommodate more than two defendants.

York Crown Court

There was a 15-month gap between the attack, which left Mr Kennedy unconscious on St Thomas Street, and the group being charged, and a further delay of almost two years since their last court appearance shortly before the pandemic began.

The fracas, which began after Mr Kennedy insulted Carter and reportedly struck her to the ground, ended in a 'melee' that was caught on CCTV. The victim was punched and rugby tackled to the floor by Law before Carter removed her shoe and hit him once with it. Wade then delivered a final punch to the face before the group realised that Mr Kennedy was unconscious, and Carter then began to help him. The victim suffered fractures to his jaw and eye and had to have surgery and metal plates fitted.

The couple, who live together in Scarborough and have a one-year-old daughter, were arrested at the scene and Wade handed himself in shortly after following a police appeal.

None had previous convictions though Carter had accepted a caution in 2013 for striking a man, whom she believed was trying to pull down her trousers, with a shoe.

Wade, who has a six-year-old child, has completed his apprenticeship at Volkswagen since the offence and his solicitor told the court he was 'thoroughly ashamed' of what had been a 'misplaced act of chivalry'.

His colleague Law, a master vehicle technician and foreman of the workshop, was described as a 'doting father' to his baby with Carter and his 11-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, and was said to be 'bright and hard-working' by his employers. The night out had been to celebrate his 30th birthday and he claimed that Mr Kennedy had 'thrown the first punch' leading him to defend himself and protect his partner.

Carter works as a manager in the hospitality industry and was a telephone volunteer for the NHS during the pandemic. She suffered injuries to the back of her head after being pushed over by Mr Kennedy, who fell on top of her. The court heard she 'tried to shield' him after realising he was unconscious. Her behaviour was described as 'out of character' and both she, Law and Wade have since given up drinking alcohol.

Sentencing all three to nine months in prison suspended for 12 months, 180 hours of unpaid work and to pay £500 in compensation to the victim, Judge Morris said: "There are countless references to this being out of character and to the toll that the wait has taken on you all. Waiting three years for sentence is punishment in itself and a form of mental torture. Had you been sentenced earlier, it would likely have been custody.

"Let this be a lesson to you all to walk away if somebody insults you."