Man (34) jailed for ‘horror-film-style’ sustained assault

The Royal Court Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (35154244)

A 34-YEAR-OLD man who carried out a ‘violent and sustained’ attack that was like ‘something out of a horror film’ has been jailed for two and a half years.

Damien John Michael Stearn committed the crime – which left his victim unable to walk without pain and afraid to leave the house – because he wanted to go to prison, the Royal Court heard yesterday.

Stearn carried out the attack in the middle of the afternoon on 8 September 2022 after a day of drinking at a friend’s flat.

Damien John Michael Stearn

Crown Advocate Carla Carvalho, prosecuting, said it had been an unprovoked attack, adding that when the victim entered the property, Stearn punched him, causing the man to fall to the floor where he hit his head on a table and was knocked unconscious.

‘It was a violent and sustained attack which lasted around ten minutes with multiple blows, including punches and stamps to the head,’ she said.

The court heard that the victim suffered cuts to his lips and eyebrow, bruises to his face and arms and a fractured knee, which Stearn had twisted while the victim was unconscious.

One witness to the grave and criminal assault described it as ‘something out of a horror film’.

Advocate Carvalho said: ‘He [Stearn] used significant force to cause the resulting injuries. The victim describes walking in pain all the time, he takes painkillers to get from A to B.

‘He is very reluctant to leave the house and see friends, and his anxiety has risen to a level it has never reached before.’

The advocate called for a custodial sentence of two and a half years.

Advocate Mark Boothman, defending, acknowledged a custodial sentence was inevitable, but highlighted that his client had already served seven months on remand.

Stearn pleaded guilty at his first appearance in the Magistrate’s Court.

Advocate Boothman said: ‘It is clear that Mr Stearn has a distinct problem with alcohol. He has identified that and he has used his time in prison to move away from a life dependent on alcohol. He wants to have a life where he doesn’t drink.’

The advocate said Stearn’s upbringing had been difficult and had included time spent in care. He described Stearn’s childhood as one ‘you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy’.

Stearn last appeared before the court in 2014 for grave and criminal assault, for which he was imprisoned for 21 months.

As well as being jailed for two and a half years yesterday, Stearn was given a restraining order of five years preventing him from contacting the victim.

Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae, presiding, called it ‘another savage assault’ carried out by Stearn.

He said: ‘You told the probation service that, in some ways, you wanted to go to prison and this would hurry it up. The probation officer says that you have a dangerous attitude and you’ve shown a distinct moral ambivalence.

‘A statement provided by the victim described it as a vicious assault that changed his life. He cannot run or dance, he is reluctant to see friends, he walks in pain and the thought of seeing you makes him feel unsafe.’

Jurats Andrew Cornish and Alison Opfermann were sitting.

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