Exmouth: drug addict jailed for hot drink attack on amputee

PUBLISHED: 16:23 03 June 2016 | UPDATED: 16:28 03 June 2016

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Heroin addict Mark Gillham, 24, has been jailed for tipping hot coffee over a man in a wheelchair in Exmouth town centre.

A drug addict from Littleham has been jailed for tipping a cup of hot coffee over an amputee in a wheelchair.

Mark Gillham was caught on CCTV as he dragged one-legged Damon Wannell’s wheelchair towards a flower bed in the centre of Exmouth, dousing him in coffee.

Exeter Crown Court heard how Gillham climbed into the wheelchair on top of the terrified victim, sat on his lap before squeezing his feet against the restraints. He then got off and punched him.

The attack, which took place on The Parade, Exmouth, only ended when shocked staff in nearby shops rushed out and wheeled Mr Wannell inside for his safety.

Heroin addict Gillham was already on bail for a bungled smash and grab raid and a suspended sentence for an earlier attack in which he bit his stepfather’s ear.

Gillham, aged 24, of Mountain Close, Exmouth, admitted attempted burglary, battery, criminal damage and obstructing police. He was jailed for two years by Judge Ian Lawrie, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.

The Judge told Gillham: “You have a bad offending history and this series of offences shows you are unable to learn your lesson and behave yourself.

“You show no respect to others and no respect at all to the court, which was very generous in giving you a suspended sentence in March. You threw that back in the court’s face.”

Mr Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said the first offence in time was the attempt to smash his way through the reinforced glass windows of Paul Ashby-Crane’s jewellery shop in Magnolia Walk, Exmouth, on December 15.

The court was told Gillham hit and kicked the glass in an unsuccessful bid to grab valuable watches and gems in display in the window. He was not arrested at the time but was identified by CCTV and arrested after being seen trying to force open the doors of shops ten days later.

The court heard how Gillham ran off and was tracked by a police dog. There was a violent struggle which only ended when four police officers and the dog subdued him. Gillham head-butted a £198 double glazed window in a house during the struggle.

Mr Evans said the attack on Mr Wannell happened on May 16 when the victim had gone into the centre of Exmouth to complain about Gillham harassing him at his home the night before.

Mr Evans said: “He was a wheelchair bound man, having had part of his left leg amputated. He had stopped at a café and had a beaker of hot coffee with him.

“Gillham saw him and grabbed his wheelchair and CCTV from the Vodafone shop showed him cowering away. The defendant dragged the chair towards some flower beds while gesticulating and shouting.

“He put the cup of coffee over him before sitting on Mr Wannell’s lap and putting his feet on top of his and pushing them down.

“He got off and sat on a wall and then continued shouting and gesticulating before he punched him on the side of the face. Shop workers intervened and took Mr Wannell to the refuge of their shop.”

Mr Stephen Nunn, defending, said Gillham had a grievance against Mr Wannell because he had refused to return property left at his house, including photographs of his children.

Mr Nunn said: “The burglary in December was an inept, drunken attempt to get into a reinforced glass window. He made a terrible mess of it.”

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