Man avoids jail after attacking homeless stranger he met in city centre

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The man met his victim in January 2021 in Newcastle city centre and said he wanted to offer her a "roof over her head."

A man who launched a brutal attack on a homeless stranger after he took her back to his flat has kept his freedom.

James Somerville met his victim in January 2021 in Newcastle city centre and said he wanted to offer her a "roof over her head."

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However, once back at his property, the nature of their conversation took a dramatic turn and the brute ended up striking her to the body.

Newcastle Crown CourtNewcastle Crown Court
Newcastle Crown Court

Newcastle Crown Court heard Somerville, who has 22 previous convictions, was left with a brain injury after he was attacked in the showers at HMP Durham in 2015, which causes him to act "impulsive."

Judge Timothy Gittins said: "A lady who was not known to you and you struck up a conversation on the city centre. You decided to invite her back to your flat, probably because you were of a similar circumstance.

"Whilst that might have been a noble aim, what happened back at your flat was anything but noble or decent.

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"You were both under the influence of drink and I think probably gas as well. Something happened that triggered her reacting to you.

"What happened was she bit you and you reacted violently to that.

"You punched her repeatedly when she tried to get away. You punched her again.

"She was left battered and bruised by what you did. It was unpleasant and uncalled for."

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The court heard Somervile was initially charged with causing grievous bodily harm after medics examined the woman's injuries, which included fractures to her back.

However, it was later established some of the marks were old and it was accepted the defendant did not cause them all.

Instead, the 31-year-old, of Matlock Gardens, Westerhope, Newcastle, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm.

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Christopher Knox, defending, said both the defendant and victim were "damaged" and stated Somerville has an issue with his booze intake.

Mr Knox told the court that Somerville retains the support of his mother and added: "The probation service say they are able to work with him. He's anxious to be worked with.

"He hasn't been in trouble since he was injured in prison."

The judge added that the offending crossed the custodial threshold, but he told Sommerville he was satisfied there was a "very real prospect of rehabilitation."

He sentenced him to six months suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements.