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Man jailed for 'appalling' baton attack resulting in relative's broken neck

A man who struck his aunt repeatedly with a police baton causing her to suffer a broken neck has been jailed for a total of three years.

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Wolverhampton Crown Court

The incident happened at a family gathering in memory of two relatives who died during the coronavirus crisis.

Sentencing him Judge Michael Chambers QC said it was "an appalling assault causing appalling injuries".

Reece Cooper, 20, who turned up with alcohol and armed with an extendable baton hit the woman and two others during a fracas at an address, in Peach Road, Wednesfield, in Wolverhampton, on April 3 last year.

He initially denied the offences, but pleaded guilty ahead of a jury trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court. He admitted an offence each of grievous bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon, and two offences of assault by beating.

Judge Chambers told Friday's hearing: "You went to a family party armed with a serious weapon. During the course of that party you attacked and assaulted a middle aged woman by striking her repeatedly to the neck causing fractures and as a consequence she suffered grave and life-changing injuries."

He said some time after Cooper arrived there was an altercation resulting in the victim and the defendant's mother slapping each other in the face.

Both women left the property and as they left Cooper struck the victim twice on the back of her neck resulting in her falling to the ground. He then kicked her on the thigh and head, before hitting another woman twice with the baton which broke. He then picked up a shovel and used it to hit one of the other women on the arm and threatened a third woman.

The victim, aged in her late 30s, was initially treated at at New Cross Hospital but was so badly injured she was transferred to Royal Stoke University Hospital where scans showed she suffered fractures. She was fitted with a special halo and diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

In her victim impact statement was read aloud by prosecutor Mr Thomas Griffiths, the woman described being a "shadow of her former self" and how she "left the job I loved" as a result of the attack which has left her reliant on her children to get her up in the morning and that she was "existing not living".

Mr Stephen Cadwaladr, mitigating barrister, said told the court Cooper, of Fifth Avenue, Low Hill, Wolverhampton, was a "mommy's boy".

He asked the judge to take his age at the time of incident and his lack of previous convictions in account.

"He is very sorry for the unintended level of injury he caused," Mr Cadwaladr added.

But the judge told Cooper: "The custody threshold is crossed."

"You were 18 at the time. Your report concludes that you have a low level of maturity. But it remains a serious assault in the context that you went to this event carrying a weapon. It is not suggested that you carried it to cause issues at this specific event."

The defendant was sentenced to a young offenders' institution for three years. He must serve half before being released on licence.

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