A THUG who smashed a piece of wood over a man’s head with a ‘blood curdling’ crack in a dispute over a complaint to a housing authority was given a suspended sentence.
Ernest Claridge and a pal had thrown objects at the victim’s car while cycling by in London Road, North End, before attacking the victim who got out to confront him.
Dad-of-three Claridge was seen ‘beckoning’ the victim down to a deserted part of the street before the pair started shouting at other.
Prosecutor Daniel Sawyer told Portsmouth Crown Court that the victim went to walk away and appeared to be hiding from 27-year-old Claridge.
A witness told how the pair came to blows with the other man jumping in and punching the victim in the back of the head as Claridge punched him in the front.
‘(The witness) says “I heard a blood-curdling sound like the sound of a baseball hitting a bat”,’ Mr Sawyer said.
‘She turned and saw the defendant hitting the victim with what looked like a wooden rolling pin without the handles.’
The woman said it sounded ‘awful’ and that she saw ‘lots of blood’.
The court heard the victim was hit at least twice with the piece of wood.
Mr Sawyer said: ‘The other man was still throwing punches at the victim, who was still on the ground.
‘This witness shouted out “don’t hit him with that” – it was as if they were shocked that people were watching.’
The victim got to his feet but felt ‘dizzy’, adding: ‘I thought if I showed them I was okay and not fight they would leave me alone.’
Dockyard worker Claridge, who had initially claimed he was acting in self-defence, turned back and smiled at the victim as he and the other attacker walked away, the court heard.
The victim only knew Claridge, of Cardiff Road, North End, ‘in passing’ but said he has ‘had some difficulty’ with Claridge and his friends after making a complaint to a local housing authority, the court heard.
Claridge admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and having an offensive weapon, the wood, in the attack on July 15 last year.
Sentencing, judge David Melville QC said it was a ‘significant’ piece of offending that would ‘merit itself an immediate prison sentence.’
But the judge spared him prison after hearing Claridge had already been jailed for two years for a separate drug offence after the attack and that he now has a secure job.
Judge Melville said it would be ‘unjust’ to jail him again ‘despite the seriousness of this offence’.
He was handed a 21-month term suspended for two years with 10 rehabilitation days and 150 hours of unpaid work.
The court heard it was not a premeditated or planned attack, and Claridge is ‘ashamed’ of his actions.