Armed vigilantes escape jail after attacking "drug dealer" in Rowley Regis

First published in News

TWO Rowley Regis vigilantes who attacked a suspected drug dealer with an iron bar and a piece of wood have escaped jail.

Paul Gardner and Anthony Bennington, who had contacted Sandwell Council and the police about the drug dealing to no avail, attacked their victim from behind and kicked him when he was on the ground.

Gardner, a father of six, asked the victim: "What are you doing giving drugs to my daughter?" before spitting at him and pummelled his face.

Gardner told Wolverhampton Crown Court  "I did not kick him and I did not have a knife, the victim was a "known drug dealer."

He said the man had been causing problems in the area for some time and he had been particularly concerned because his children had been finding hypodermic needles.

The 46-year-old said he had reported the matter to Sandwell Council on three separate occasions and also informed the police but no action had been taken.

Two Rowley Regis men who were armed with an iron bar and a piece of wood when they brutally attacked a man they claimed had been dealing drugs in the area have been allowed to keep their freedom.

Gardner of Winchester Road, Rowley Regis admitted causing actual bodily harm but there was a trial of issue because he denied having a knife during the incident.

Judge Michael Dudley after hearing evidence, said he was satisfied there had been no knife but he added: "I am satisfied each of the assailants were armed and that they both kicked the victim when he was down."

Miss Wendy Miller defending Gardner described him as a "man who drinks too much" and stressed it was not a gratuitous attack.

"He was concerned for his daughter and it was an incident that escalated out of control."

Bennington, 27 of Mount Road, Rowley Regis pleaded not guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm but he was found guilty by a jury after they retired to consider the evidence at the end of his trial.

Gardner was given an 8 month jail term suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work in the community and told to obey a three month curfew between the hours of 7.00pm and 7.00am.

Bennington was given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out the same amount of unpaid work and to obey the same curfew.

The victim who denied being involved in drugs said he was knocked down in the attack and he claimed the next thing he saw was Gardner who was carrying a blade.

He said: "I will remember it to this day, I saw the knife coming towards me but it didn't make contact."

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