A THUG who headbutted a 17-year-old boy splitting his eyelid in a ‘ferocious’ attack has been spared jail.
Gary Hayward, 27, launched at the boy ‘with some force’ in Burger King, Havant, after the youngster had chucked an ice cube which accidentally hit Hayward’s pregnant partner. A friend of the teenager had put it down his back.
CCTV footage played at Portsmouth Crown Court showed how the defendant attacked after the boy had been in the fast food restaurant for under two minutes.
In a statement read to the court the boy said: ‘I don’t understand why this has happened to me, I was only in Burger King for one-and-a-half minutes before the male walked over to me and headbutted me in the face. I’m still shocked about the ferocity of the attack on me.’
He added: ‘He gave me no warning before headbutting me and the damage to the area above my eye was instant and began bleeding straight away.’
Prosecutor Martyn Booth said: ‘There’s about two seconds between (the boy) looking up and the defendant coming towards him and the headbutt being carried out.’
A group of ‘disorderly’ youths had been in the restaurant earlier before the boy walked in, with Hayward telling police they were ‘hectic’ and ‘play fighting’ in the queue.
The youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons, needed two external stitches and nine internal stitches to close up his lacerated right eyelid.
Dad-of-one Hayward, of Ann’s Hill Road, Gosport, had told police he tried to ‘daze’ the boy, who he claimed had said ‘why you coming at me I’m going to stab you?’ after he was confronted over the ice cube.
But Mr Booth told the court CCTV footage showed there would not have been enough time for the boy to say this.
Hayward told officers he ‘acted in self-defence’. He admitted wounding and was handed a 20-month jail term suspended for two years with 20 rehabilitation activity days to complete.
Judge Roger Hetherington ordered him to pay £1,000 compensation to the boy.
The boy ‘didn’t deserve to have that happen to him,’ on February 16 last year the judge added.
Sparing Hayward jail, the judge said he had a ‘significant caring responsibility’ for his six-month-old infant, his partner, and terminally-ill mother.
Hayward, who was previously jailed for ABH and has two previous battery convictions, had also ‘not been drinking and taking drugs for several months’ and was in full-time work.