Brad Spencer: Sheffield man left cousin in coma with traumatic brain injury after 'brutal' attack
"You carried out a particularly vicious, brutal and prolonged attack.”
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A Sheffield man subjected his cousin to a ‘vicious’ attack as he lay defenceless on the ground, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury.
Judge Sarah Wright told 30-year-old defendant Brad Spencer: “On January 10, 2023, after drinking with the complainant and his partner. And after an altercation inside their home, you went outside and carried out a particularly vicious, brutal and prolonged attack.”
“As he lay defenceless on the ground, you struck him with 20 blows to his upper body,” Judge Wright told Spencer, noting that around five of the blows were ‘stamps’ inflicted with Spencer’s foot.
Judge Wright continued: “You left your victim with what were clearly life-threatening injuries, and a traumatic brain injury, leaving him in a coma, and with an injury that will affect him for the rest of his life.”
Sheffield Crown Court heard how Spencer’s victim - the complainant - remained in hospital for two months and 11 days following the attack, and spent around a month of his stay unconscious in a coma.
Judge Wright told a hearing held on November 20, 2023 that the complainant’s memory has been ‘compromised’ to such an extent that he cannot remember his relationship with his partner, or much of his life, prior to the attack.
In his victim impact statement to the court, the complainant said he ‘cannot remember much about life before hospital’. He also said he was unable to use the left side of his body following the attack and has had to learn how to walk again, that his eyesight has been impaired so much that he now requires glasses, and he has lost his independence as a consequence of the attack.
“I get frustrated and upset at a lot of things. I struggle to focus and to answer questions, and find myself getting upset a lot these days…even though I’m improving slowly, I’m scared I’ll never get back to myself.”
The complainant’s partner told the court, through her statement, that he is only able to be by himself for a short period of time, and that she has to watch him in the shower to make sure he does not fall over, and when he is using the stairs because he still ‘struggles’.
Commenting on the ongoing impact of the assault, Judge Wright commented: “His family have also been greatly affected, and their lives will never be the same again.”
Prosecutor, Andrew Espley, said the teenage daughter of the complainant’s partner witnessed the assault as she was getting ready for school, and she has been left traumatised by the incident.
Mr Espley told the hearing that Spencer, of Pot House Lane, Stocksbridge, Sheffield and the complainant are cousins who are related through marriage.
Spencer was initially charged with attempted murder in connection with the incident, but a guilty plea to a lesser charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent was subsequently accepted by prosecutors.
Mr Espley said Spencer is ‘heavily convicted’ and in 2013 he was jailed for six years for wounding with intent, relating to an incident in which his victim was punched and stabbed multiple times.
The prosecutor referred Judge Wright to Spencer’s pre-sentence report, and the conclusions made by the author, who assessed the defendant as posing a ‘significant risk of serious harm to the public’. Mr Espley suggested Spencer therefore met the criteria for a ‘dangerous’ offender.
Defending, Vanessa Saxton told Judge Wright: “It’s fair to say that the gentleman standing before you in November 2023 is a changeable man, he’s changed throughout these proceedings. He’s now in receipt of proper medication to control his ADHD…he’s now getting proper treatment for his depression.”
Ms Saxton said Spencer did not visit the complainant’s home with the intention of causing trouble but events of the evening overwhelmed those present.
“It was a situation that was somewhat out of his control due to his substance misuse,” said Ms Saxton.
Ms Saxton said the complainant was ‘lashing out at Mr Spencer and punches were thrown’ and he regrets that he did not ‘simply walk away’ before the altercation moved outside where he inflicted the offending injuries.
Judge Wright handed Spencer an 18-year sentence, consisting of 13 years’ imprisonment - of which he will be required to serve at least two-thirds - and a five year extended licence after judging him to be a dangerous offender.
As she sent Spencer to begin his prison sentence, she told him: “You still maintain you were acting in self-defence, and appear to show little remorse or insight.”