A man and two teenagers were jailed for a total of eight-and-a-half years today (Thursday 10 June) after a serious assault on an artist.
Christopher Winnan, 21 of Birdham Road, Brighton, and Damien Leaney, 17, of Horton Road, Brighton, were both found guilty of violent disorder.
They were convicted for their part in the attack on Joel Henson, 25, at The Level, Brighton, on 29 June 2009 after a three-week trial at Hove Crown Court last month.
Both were cleared of charges of assault causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent.
Lenny Heath, 17, of Widdicombe Way, Brighton, admitted assault causing GBH with intent and witness intimidation.
Heath was jailed for five years for GBH and for 12 months to run concurrently for perverting the course of justice.
Leaney was given a detention and training order for 18 months for his part in the incident and Winnan was jailed for two years.
The court was told how Mr Henson was found unconscious near a Brighton University building in Lewes Road by a man called Paul LeCorriere, who was walking his dog.
Mr Henson needed emergency brain surgery to save his life having been repeatedly assaulted during a series of attacks which began at The Level.
He was released from hospital in late July and had been recuperating with his family near Steyning.
But he died four months later in a bedsit in Kemp Town from an accidental heroin overdose.
An inquest into his death was told that he took ketamine but may have tried heroin for the first time on the day of his death in September.
After the sentencing Mr Henson’s family said: “As a family we have been through a very traumatic year and our thoughts continue to be with Joel.
“We would like to thank everyone who tried to help Joel on the day of the attack.
“We would also like to thank the many hundreds of people who have sent messages of support to our family.”
Detective Constable Emma Rees said: “The sentences reflect the serious nature of this crime.
“It is hoped that this will act as a deterrent to such acts of violence.
“This was an unprovoked and violent attack by a group of young men on a vulnerable adult.
“The victim, Joel Henson, suffered a subdural haematoma as a result of this vicious attack, and had to undergo emergency surgery to save his life.
“Sussex Police would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public for the support and invaluable assistance they have given throughout this investigation and trial.
“Our thoughts today are with the family of Joel Henson, who have shown dignity and courage throughout this investigation.”
Sussex Police officers Detective Constable Rees and Detective Inspector John Wallace were commended for their investigation into the incident. Paul LeCorriere was awarded £300 from public funds for his actions upon locating Mr Henson.
Judge Anthony Niblett, sitting at Hove Crown Court, referred to these actions as “an example of human goodness”.