A VIGILANTE who carried out an attack on an innocent member of the public after witnessing a terrifying gun robbery in Huddersfield has been jailed for a year.
John Chapman, 34, got the wrong man when he armed himself with a bottle and attacked Dean Hamilton in a town centre street almost a year ago.
Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday how Chapman, who had previously been jailed for six-and-a-half years for wounding with intent, confronted the unsuspecting Mr Hamilton late at night after doing his own “detective work” after the robbery incident at his friend’s home.
Prosecutor Louise Azmi said the complainant, who did not know or recognise Chapman, was hit once in the right side of the face with the glass bottle.
Mr Hamilton then punched Chapman in the face causing his nose to bleed and it was blood-staining on the complainant’s jumper which led to the defendant being arrested six months later.
As a result of being hit with the bottle Mr Hamilton’s jaw was fractured in two places and he had to have pins inserted during surgery.
The court heard that police investigations revealed that Mr Hamilton had a alibi and Mrs Azmi stressed that he was not involved in the offence.
Chapman, an unemployed carpet fitter, of Hall Cross Road, Lowerhouses, pleaded guilty to a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm, but his lawyer Carl Kingsley submitted that if it had not been for the trauma caused by the robbery his client would not be back in court.
He said Chapman had made good progress since his release from prison in 2002 and he urged Recorder Jeremy Barnett to consider suspending any custodial sentence for the attack on Mr Hamilton.
Recorder Barnett accepted that it was a highly unusual offence because it was committed shortly after Chapman had witnessed “a most horrific robbery” where a gun was used at his friend’s house.
“You tried to do your own detective work and thought that you’d found one of the attackers,” said recorder Barnett.
“Well it turns out you were wrong because the chap you attacked had an alibi.
“What you did was very dangerous,” the judge told Chapman.
“'It’s what’s often called a vigilante attack. Taking the law into your own hands. In this case it was awful because the chap you attacked was an innocent victim.”
The judge said he could not suspend the prison sentence, but he had scaled it down substantially.