16 months’ jail for Sheffield man who attempted to strike student over the head with metal bar in drug-fuelled rage

A Sheffield man who attempted to strike a student over the head with a four-foot long metal bar in a drug-fuelled rage has been jailed.

Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 15:40 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 17:37 pm

The complainant was walking home with friends on the evening of September 24 last year, after attending a freshers’ week event at Crystal bar, when he encountered defendant, Benjamin Gibson.

“The defendant appeared to be intimidating a group of people. The complainant smiled and laughed at the defendant, and about five minutes later he noticed the defendant was following him, armed with a large metal bar,” James Baird, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court during a hearing held today.

Benjamin Gibson

Mr Baird said the metal bar wielded by Gibson, 27, was ‘about four feet’ long.

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“The defendant swung it [the metal bar] at the complainant’s head, and the complainant managed to block the blow. He grabbed hold of the bar and effectively wrestled it from the defendant.

“The defendant ran to his friends and said: ‘Give me that shank’. The complainant and his group of friends ran away,” added Mr Baird.

Mr Baird described how Gibson, of no fixed abode, continued to pursue the complainant, and when he caught up with him, began ‘throwing punches, some of which connected’.

A police car drove past while the attack was taking place and the complainant ran towards it and ‘asked for help,’ the court heard.

Gibson was arrested at the scene, but initially claimed police ‘had got the wrong person’.

He subsequently acknowledged his offending when he pleaded guilty to a charge of affray.

In a statement read to the court, Gibson’s victim, who is a university student in Sheffield, described the impact the attack on him continues to have on his life.

“I was scared for the safety of myself and my friends. When the defendant was running at me I thought he had a knife,” he said, adding that he struggles to sleep as a result of what happened and is fearful of returning to the area of Sheffield where the attack took place.

The court was told how Gibson, who has an extensive criminal record of 29 previous offences, was sentenced to 30 months in prison during a hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court in March for offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, theft and breach of a suspended sentence order.

Laura Marshall, defending, said Gibson ‘would not have committed the offence if he had not been under the influence of drugs,’ and has struggled with alcohol and substance abuse problems for some time.

She continued by telling the court that Gibson has a seven-year-old son; and wants to use his time in custody to address his substance abuse problems and enrol on some of the courses offered so when he is released from prison he can begin to rebuild his life and work towards becoming a good example to his son.

Judge John Thackray QC sentenced Gibson to 16 months in prison, to run consecutively to the 30 months he received in March, bringing his total time behind bars to 46 months.

“This involved a number of students, and this incident was one of their first experiences of Sheffield...you could easily have caused a serious head injury to the complainant, if not a fatal head injury,” said Judge Thackray.

He added: “16 months is the least sentence I can impose.”

- South Yorkshire Police have been asked to provide a custody image of Gibson