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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Whitehaven attackers have prison sentences cut

Two alcoholics who assaulted a dog walker with a heart condition after he refused their demands for cash have had their jail terms cut on appeal.

Kevin James O’Fee and Paula Goodwin then intimidated their victim, Keith Garner – who suffered a heart attack on his way to hospital – in a bid to escape prosecution.

O’Fee, 46, of Wasdale Close, and Goodwin, 41, of Queen Street, both in Whitehaven, were jailed for four and four-and-a-half years respectively, after being found guilty of a string of offences at Carlisle Crown Court in May.

But judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court reduced each of their jail terms by one year, saying the original sentences were “excessive”.

Lord Justice Rix, sitting with Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, told the court the pair attacked Mr Garner as he was walking his dogs just after midnight in November 2010.

O’Fee headbutted him, knocking him to the ground, and then kicked him a few times before Goodwin stamped on his chest and stomach.

Mr Garner, who suffered from long-term angina, had a heart-attack on his way to hospital. Police were called and the pair were arrested.

Eight days later, the remorseless pair went to Mr Garner’s home in Wasdale Close and intimidated him by shouting and swearing at him. The court heard Mr Garner was terrified by the experience.

O’Fee was taken into custody following this incident, but Goodwin then went to the victim’s home on December 2 – blaming him for O’Fee’s arrest. She pushed him onto his sofa, before taking a swing at him.

Jurors found O’Fee and Goodwin guilty of assault and witness intimidation. Goodwin was also found guilty of taking revenge and criminal damage.

At the time she was under a suspended sentence, handed to her at Whitehaven Magistrates’ Court in March 2010 for battery.

In addition to their jail terms, the pair were handed restraining orders, banning them from contacting Mr Garner.

The court heard they both had “deeply embedded” problems with alcohol, which had led to them both committing offences previously.

Their lawyers argued their jail terms were “too long”, saying the crown court judge didn’t take enough account of the length of the “overall” sentences.

Allowing the appeal, Lord Justice Rix said the original terms were “excessive” and reduced O’Fee’s sentence to three years and Goodwin’s to three-and-a-half years.

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