A ‘FUNDAMENTALLY decent man’ took the law into his own hands and recruited someone to carry out an attack on the person he believed had stolen £3,000 in cash from him.
Christopher Beddow pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to offences of assault and assault by beating, after originally facing a more serious charge of aggravated burglary.
The 31-year-old, of Shrewley Common, Shrewley, near Warwick, was sentenced to a total of 14 months in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Peter Cooke, who described him as ‘fundamentally a hard-working and decent man,’ also ordered him to take part in a rehabilitation activity and to pay £500 costs.
Prosecutor Charles Crinion said in February 2017 John Lewis was at his sister and Beddow’s home in Shrewley, when, in the early hours of the morning, it was said a burglary had taken place and £3,000 taken from Beddow’s workbag.
But Beddow believed Mr Lewis, who was described as ‘in effect his brother-in-law,’ had staged it and stolen the money.
That evening Mr Lewis went to visit a friend at his home in Stratford.
At about 6.15pm the friend went outside and saw two men, Beddow and another man wearing a balaclava and armed with a metal pole and shoved it towards him demanding to know where John was.
That man then grabbed the friend and headbutted him before pushing him back and running into the Drayton Avenue property where he attacked Mr Lewis.
He then came out, saying ‘It’s done now,’ and he and Beddow made off from the scene.
The friend went back inside where he found Mr Lewis on the floor dazed, having been struck to the back of his head with the metal bar, knocking him unconscious.
Mr Lewis was taken to hospital where he was found to have two areas of swelling to the back of his head, but a scan did not reveal any further injury.
When Beddow, a sole trader mechanic, was arrested he claimed he was elsewhere at the time, but then made no comment when questioned again after he was identified by the friend and mobile phone evidence also put him at the scene.
Ian Speed, defending, said: “He acted improperly, but undoubtedly believed this man had stolen £3,000 from him.”
Sentencing Beddow, Judge Cooke told him: “I am not going to send you immediately to prison today. It clearly passes the custody threshold, but I’m going to suspend it.
“You genuinely suspected Mr Lewis had been responsible for the burglary of your family home.
“But you resorted to wholly improper means to try to recover your property and no doubt teach him a lesson as well.
“To recruit another person involves a high degree of premeditation, and to use a weapon, even if it was in his hands rather than yours, is a further aggravating feature.
“But I am mindful that this was over two-and-a-half years ago now, and you have carried on leading a lawful lifestyle.”