A MAN who was badly beaten in his home – but saw his attacker walk away with a caution – has won his legal battle for justice.
John Guest was left bloodied and bruised by the harrowing assault in his home in Penn Hill, Poole, in April last year.
He told the Daily Echo he was punched and kicked and doctors told him he now has a far greater risk of glaucoma as result of the attack. But his assailant, Christopher Roy Watts, was given a conditional caution and told to pay compensation of just £200 – not enough to cover the damage done to Mr Guest’s home.
The 52-year-old said he was left feeling “complete anger and bewilderment” at the decision. “I decided I wasn’t going to let it go until I got justice,” he added.
He took the case to a judicial review and in March a landmark decision by two judges stripped his attacker of the conditional caution.
In September, the case finally came before the courts and Watts, then 51 and of Surrey Road, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty and was convicted of actual bodily harm (ABH.) He was given a six-week suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to Mr Guest.
The case featured in a hard-hitting Panorama documentary on BBC 1 last night, which revealed 39,000 cases of ABH resulted in a caution last year.
“Don’t turn around and say we are strong on law and order when it’s patently obvious we are not,” added Mr Guest. “Criminals who are violent are being let off. ABH is not cautionable.”
Dorset Police confirmed Christopher Watts had originally received a conditional caution for common assault – a decision made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), after consultation with Dorset Police officers. A spokesman said: “Both the Dorset CPS and Dorset Police agree that this was a wrong decision and Mr Watts was subsequently prosecuted for an offence of causing Mr Guest actual bodily harm.
“Mr Guest has received an apology for the original decision from Dorset Police and we have confirmed that this case was not suitable for such an outcome.
“New procedures have been put in place to ensure that similar cases are not considered for this type of ‘out of court disposal’ in the future.”