Coleford man is jailed after assaulting council worker

Friday 8th April 2022 8:44 am
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Nicholas Hughes
Nicholas Hughes (Gloucester Crown Court )

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A 28-year-old man who attacked a council worker in a Coleford street has been jailed for eight months.

Recycling bins supervisor Mr Martin Brain is waiting for tests to see if he will need a metal plate inserted in his arm following the drunken attack by Nicholas Hughes.

Kate Roxburgh, defending Hughes, said he had turned to alcohol after the death of his son earlier this year and he had shown genuine remorse for the assault on Mr Brain.

She said that while Hughes accepted he would receive a prison sentence, she asked that it be suspended.

But Recorder Neil Millard said that an immediate custodial sentence for an attack on someone doing their job and who know feels vulnerable was appropriate.

Prosecutor Nicola Wood told Gloucester Crown Court on Wednesday (March 30) that on March 10 Martin Brain, a recycling bins supervisor working for Forest of Dean District Council, was driving on Tram Road, Coleford, when he noticed Nicholas Hughes walking down the middle of the street in front of him.

“Hughes approached Mr Brain’s van and banged on the side of the vehicle,” said Ms Wood.

“Mr Brain stopped and got out and Hughes started shouting at him in an angry but incoherent fashion.

“Mr Brain was not clear what Hughes was on about and tried to get on with his work. Hughes then tried to apologise

“Mr Brain was having none of this and told Hughes to ‘go on your way and I’ll go mine’.”

Ms Wood said: “Hughes then challenged Mr Brain over his driving and parking efforts and walked off. Mr Brain told Hughes that he needed to adjust his attitude.

“Mr Brain thought Hughes had a knife inside a sheath but it was in fact a metal pole which he wielded towards Mr Brain, hitting his arm and causing the weapon to fall to the floor.

“Mr Brain then attempted to get back into his van but Hughes launched himself at the door and it trapped Mr Brain’s arm, which was still partially outside. This caused a sharp pain to Mr Brain. Hughes ran off.”

The court was told that Mr Brain was taken to Lydney Hospital and was put in a plaster cast for a severe fracture.

When arrested Hughes, of Astridge Close, Coleford, told police he had recently been released from prison, following a recent bereavement, had turned to drinking alcohol instead of using Class A drugs. He said he had consumed a quantity of whisky that day.

Hughes said he wished to apologise to Mr Brain for causing his injuries.

In his victim statement Mr Brain said that he had lived in the Coleford area all his life and that he got on with most people while doing his job. He had never been physically assaulted before.

Kate Roxburgh, defending Hughes, said: “He has shown significant remorse, especially through the letter he has written to the court in which he accepts full responsibility for his actions and suggests in part that this was due to a recent bereavement – his son – and had turned to alcohol to help in the grieving process.

“He has some fear of returning to Class A drugs, as he still has an addiction to this and his recovery is still work in progress. He knows he needs professional help and he is suffering from severe anxiety while being remanded in custody.

“His grandmother and sister are in the public gallery today. He has been trying to access counselling while being remanded in custody.

“As a young child he found his (father) dead at the age of eight. That is something he thinks underlies the problems he has now. And that is something that he has never properly addressed.”

“He fully accepts he will receive a custodial sentence today but I submit that with his mitigation this sentence could be suspended.”

Hughes pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Brain at Coleford on March 10, 2022 and having a metal pole as an offensive weapon on the same date in Tram Road.

The judge, Recorder Neil Millard, told Hughes: “You got involved in an altercation with Mr Brain, who was only doing his job. You were clearly drunk and you forced the van door to close on his arm and it was this action that caused the fracture.

“Mr Brain is currently in plaster and is awaiting tests to see if he needs a metal plate to be inserted into his arm.

“I accept you are genuinely remorseful and have admitted your actions. I note that when you are sober you have a different side to you.

“This was an assault on a man, a public servant, who was carrying out his job.

“He was a lone worker who now feels quite vulnerable. A weapon was used, but it was not used to cause the injury to Mr Brain’s arm, which is not life changing.

“I extend my condolences to you for the loss of your son earlier this year. I appreciate that you have had a troubled childhood losing your father at the age of eight. I accept these events will have had an effect on you.”

Hughes from the dock said: “But it does not excuse my behaviour that day, for which I am very sorry.”

The judge sentenced Hughes to eight months prison and added: “This was an unprovoked attack on a public servant and only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified, especially as you have poor compliance with the probation service.”

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