Hammer-wielding thug threatened Sheffield pub landlady just months after leaving shop worker with head injury

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A man who terrorised Sheffield pub staff with a hammer before assaulting a police officer had attacked a shop worker, leaving him with a serious head injury, less than three months earlier. 

In the moments before the attack upon the shop worker on February 25, 2023, defendant, Liam Smith, entered the Co-Op store on Birley Moor Road in Frecheville, Sheffield, filled up a basket with food, before leaving the store without making any attempt to pay. 

Liam Smith, aged 34, pleaded guilty to offences of wounding with intent, theft from a shop, assaulting an emergency worker and possessing an offensive weapon in a public place at an earlier hearingLiam Smith, aged 34, pleaded guilty to offences of wounding with intent, theft from a shop, assaulting an emergency worker and possessing an offensive weapon in a public place at an earlier hearing
Liam Smith, aged 34, pleaded guilty to offences of wounding with intent, theft from a shop, assaulting an emergency worker and possessing an offensive weapon in a public place at an earlier hearing | SYP/NW

Summarising the violence that followed, Judge Graham Robinson Esquire told Smith, during a Sheffield Crown Court hearing: “One of the shop workers followed you out of the store, and sought to recover the items that had been stolen. Your reaction was to punch him. You punched him so hard to his face that he lost his balance and fell, and indeed, bashed his skull against the ground.”

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The hearing on June 14, 2024 heard how the shop worker suffered a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain.

He lost consciousness, and had to undergo ‘life-saving’ surgery, after being rushed to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.

Judge Robinson remarked that Smith, aged 34, was ‘lucky’ he was not before the court to be sentenced for a ‘one-punch manslaughter’. 

In a statement to the court, the shop worker said he had gone from being someone who thought of himself as being a ‘confident man’ to feeling ‘scared to go outside’. 

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He also described how his continuing pain results in him being unable to sleep, and he also struggles to eat as a consequence of ‘being so tired’ and the strong medication he is on to assist with the pain. 

“Even though we’re about 16 months down the road since this occurred, the medics just do not know what the future holds for the complainant…there’s a risk of epilepsy,” Judge Robinson said of the shop worker’s injuries. 

Smith, formerly of Shortbrook Way, Westfield, Sheffield, struck again at around 7.30pm on June 11, 2023, when he attended the Red Lion pub in the Gleadless area of Sheffield, topless and armed with a hammer, concealed in his shorts. 

Judge Robinson told Smith: “For reasons best known to yourself, you went to the Red Lion pub in Gleadless, armed with a hammer, waving it about, threatening to do people in. You threatened the landlady, you said: ‘I’m going to put your teeth in’.”

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“The police were called, I’ve seen the body-worn footage of the female officer who attended. It shows you wearing - as far as I can see - a pair of boxer shorts, there was nothing on the top half of your body.”

“She approached you in a calm manner, asking you to come to her. You were immediately aggressive, you swung at her.”

The court heard how Smith managed to wrestle the lone officer’s keys and radio away from her - injuring her in the process - and she relied upon the assistance of members of the public to help handcuff, and arrest, Smith. 

The officer revealed, through her statement to the court, that she believed she would have been at real risk of Smith causing her harm had the members of the public not intervened. 

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She also said the situation has caused to question whether she should have acted in the way she did, whether she feels safe attending incidents on her own, and even whether she wants to continue in the profession. 

Smith pleaded guilty to offences of wounding with intent, theft from a shop, assaulting an emergency worker and possessing an offensive weapon in a public place at an earlier hearing. 

Prosecutor, Joseph Bell, told the court that Smith has a criminal record consisting of 14 previous offences from eight convictions, and cited previous entries for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and causing suffering to an animal as being relevant to this latest spate of offending. 

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He said Smith was also the subject of a community order at the time of this offending. 

Defending, Richard Adams told the court that at the time of the shop theft and assault upon the Co-Op worker, Smith had reached a point that meant he had ‘no means’ to pay for food, and had therefore been forced to steal. 

Mr Adams acknowledged Judge Robinson’s point about Smith being lucky that his actions had not resulted in a ‘one punch manslaughter’; but added that the extent of his violence against the complainant had been a 'single punch’. 

Moving on to the pub incident, Mr Adams said he was not going to suggest Smith’s behaviour had been ‘attractive’ but told the court it was, nonetheless, a ‘short-lived matter’.

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Judge Robinson jailed 34-year-old Liam Smith for two-and-a-half years, after taking the current state of England’s prisons, Smith’s guilty pleas and the principle of totality into consideration.Judge Robinson jailed 34-year-old Liam Smith for two-and-a-half years, after taking the current state of England’s prisons, Smith’s guilty pleas and the principle of totality into consideration.
Judge Robinson jailed 34-year-old Liam Smith for two-and-a-half years, after taking the current state of England’s prisons, Smith’s guilty pleas and the principle of totality into consideration. | SYP

He continued by telling the court this would be Smith’s first stint in custody, and would result in him being ‘separated’ from his eight-year-old daughter.

Describing Smith’s most recent offending as a ‘Road to Damascus moment,’ Mr Adams added: “The fact he’s in custody has brought some reality to his situation, a reality he would rather not repeat.”

Judge Robinson jailed Smith for two-and-a-half years, after taking the current state of England’s prisons, Smith’s guilty pleas and the principle of totality into consideration.

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