Junkies left pal for dead after assault

Craig Western
Craig Western
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THIS sorry bunch of desperate drug addicts left a pal for dead after punching him, knifing him, and battering him with an iron bar following a Christmas dinner in a Sheffield flat.

John Touze and his junkie friends Dean Harris, Stephen Hodgson and Craig Western unleashed a “barrage of violence” on Darren Tonks, aged 46, who had been invited to enjoy a festive meal with Touze at his flat on Lancing Road, Highfield, Sheffield, last December.

Dean Harris

Dean Harris

Touze, aged 39, joined in the assault despite being a double amputee in a wheelchair. Accomplice Hodgson suffers a deep vein thrombosis in his leg, caused by drug abuse.

Judge Robert Moore QC told Sheffield Crown Court: “If anybody wanted an illustration of where long-term drug abuse gets you, they need only to look at the facts of this dreadful attack.”

Darren’s assailants had demanded he give them heroin, and stole £65 in cash from his wallet as he lay injured on the floor, before Western grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed him in the arm.

The four then fled as Darren fell unconscious, bleeding heavily.

John Touze

John Touze

He was saved only after Touze’s concerned mother visited the flat at 5am the next day.

Judge Moore said Darren’s life has been changed forever by his ordeal. He suffered serious wounds to his arm and face and bruising across his body, and now suffers constant nightmares. The attack has also left him unable to play the guitar - his only hobby.

“The complainant had been invited for Christmas dinner at the home of John Touze, a wheelchair-bound drug addict with no legs,” Judge Moore told the court.

“This was a combination of the breach of trust of a friendship, and a mob-handed ambush in a private flat.”

Stephen Hodgson

Stephen Hodgson

Harris, aged 36, Western, 32, and Hodgson, 33, arrived at the flat at 11pm and soon began to demand drugs from Darren, a heroin user.

“His refusal was met with a barrage of violence, mostly with punches, some with an iron bar,” the judge said.

He told Western: “You then made it even worse with an unexpected frolic of your own. You went for a kitchen knife and started inflicting serious wounds.”

The blows and the deep cuts caused Darren to fall unconscious.

“That’s when everything finally plunged to the worst depths,” Judge Moore said. “You left him for dead at midnight without the benefit of medical treatment. The least you could have done was to call 999.

“You knew he was bleeding, and a moment’s thought by anybody sober would have appreciated he might bleed to death.”

Gurdial Singh, defending Harris, said he was “ashamed” of fleeing, while Sheila Whitehead, for Western, said he was deeply regretful. “It all happened very quickly indeed,” she said.

Kevin Jones, defending Hodgson, told the court: “It wasn’t planned to go round to this house and commit these offences.

“They met up and went to the house for no other reason than they had nowhere else to go. They were invited in, the opportunity arose, and these men seized it.”

Harris, of Lingfoot Crescent, Jordanthorpe, and Hodgson, of Batemoor Close, Batemoor, admitted robbery and were jailed for eight years.

Western, of Hazlebarrow Road, Jordanthorpe, pleaded guilty to causing GBH and robbery and was locked up for 12 years. Touze will be sentenced next month.