A man attacked a vulnerable victim sitting on a bench outside the Seaham fish and chip shop

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A man said to be capable of “explosive violence” has been sentenced to an extended six-year prison term for an unprovoked attack on a vulnerable man.

Leaving a fish and chip shop, Darren Yates drove past the victim, who was sitting on a bench in Seaham town centre, before returning, getting out of his car and punching him three to four times.

As the helpless man fell to the ground, seemingly unconscious, Yates then stomped on him at least once, possibly twice, in addition to giving him another punch, before returning to his car and driving away , leaving the victim motionless and unresponsive on the ground.

Durham Crown Court heard the victim was known to have suffered brain damage after suffering a heart attack in 2019, but was still able to walk out unaided until the time of the incident, at 7:20 p.m. on July 20 of this year.

Read more: Man kicked prone victim four times and stomped on her twice in Seaham attack

Paul Rooney, prosecuting, said after the attack police arrived at the scene and the victim was taken to hospital suffering abrasions, bruising and swelling to his scalp and upper lip , but a CT scan revealed a brain contusion and possible small hemorrhage.

Mr Rooney said Yates was identified in CCTV footage in nearby Adelaide Row and was arrested at his home later that evening.

The 39-year-old defendant, from Essex Crescent, Seaham, who has been in custody since his arrest, admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent during a plea hearing in mid-August.

His sentencing hearing was adjourned to allow the preparation of a report by the probation service to assess his dangerousness.

Mr Rooney told the sentencing hearing that the victim was so vulnerable he could not be interviewed until some time later with the help of an intermediary and told police he would not did not remember much of the incident.

He said he was now afraid to go out alone as he feared being attacked, while also having trouble sleeping.

Mr Rooney referred to the probation report, in which the defendant alleged the victim of that attack and two other men assaulted him in 2016.

Police were notified of the attack and Yates received treatment for bruises and swelling, but no broken bones and was given pain relief medication.

Read more: Man punched woman three times in Seaham’s flat row

Mr Rooney said records confirmed an incident was reported to police in April 2016 in which the defendant named another person responsible, but two other people involved were unknown to him.

The court was told that the accused had 27 convictions for 57 offences, including some for violence resulting in custodial sentences.

Michael Cahill, for Yates, said most of the defendant’s serious offenses date back some time now and that he has been trying to turn his life around in recent years.

“Obviously it failed and he’s devastated by it and he’s let his family down.

“He had put behind him the most serious offenses of nine or ten years ago, but it is clear that he failed to do so following this incident.

Judge James Adkin told Yates that he had “brutally” attacked a vulnerable man who was “totally incapable of defending himself”.

The judge said that aside from the injuries, it appears to have had a serious impact on the victim’s independence.

He said he had serious concerns about the defendant, who carried out “a brutal and cowardly attack on someone who had had a heart attack”, and still appears capable of “explosive violence”.

Judge Adkin therefore imposed an extended determinate sentence, including a six-year custodial element, of which the defendant must serve two-thirds before being eligible for release by the Parole Board, but he may have to serve his full sentence behind bars.

Upon his release, he will then be subject to an extended license period of three years.

The judge recommended that a condition of his license be to prohibit Yates from contacting the victim in this case.

Read next:

The victim asked the accused for a bottle opener outside the Peterlee pub before the assault

Incarceration of man for prolonged assault among convicted cases at Durham Crown Court in recent days

County Durham rapist at ‘high risk’ of sexual abuse for women

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