Francesco Hounye had been in the UK for just three days when he was left with permanent scarring after sustaining a brutal attack at the hands of five men in June 2013. The men, Samad Uddin, Shadhat Hussain, Kamrul Hussain, Shaleem Uddin and Masoom Rahman, were caught on CCTV repeatedly punching and kicking the 23 year-old man in an apparent unprovoked attack. Three of the men pleaded guilty last year to causing Grevious Bodily Harm (s.20), also known as “wounding”. A fourth man (Shaleem Uddin) pleaded to GBH with intent to cause really serious harm (s.18). The fifth man, Samad Uddin, claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity, was tried and found guilty of s.18 GBH by a jury sitting at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
CCTV images (published in the national press) showed Mr Hounye drinking from a bottle of Jagermeister when he was attacked by the group, who wrestled the bottle from his hands, smashed it over his head and beat him. It was a sustained and brutal attack, captured almost entirely on CCTV. A passer-by intervened and the gang fled. Mr Hounye’s injuries were severe, requiring 23 stitches across his face. His eye socket was left fractured. He is scarred for life and requires ongoing treatment from a psycho-therapist.
HH Judge Hammerson sentenced the gang on 2nd February 2015, to various sentences of imprisonment.
Shaleem Uddin, 22, was sentenced to six years for s.18 GBH, the longest sentence of the group, as he was alleged to be a ringleader and did not have the benefit of “credit” from a guilty plea to reduce his sentence.
Samad Uddin, 26, was sentenced to 66 months for s.18 GBH (5 years 6 months), also alleged to have been a ring-leader. He is currently serving 32 month sentence for possession with intent to supply drugs, and money laundering, which he received in January 2015. The GBH sentence will run concurrent to that sentence, due to the principle of totality.
Kamrul Hussain, 23, was sentenced to 27 months (2 years 3 months) for s.20 GBH (wounding)
Shadhat Hussain, 20, was sentenced to 22 months for s.20 GBH.
Masoom Rahman, 22, was given a suspended sentence of 18 months, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of unpaid work, £1000 compensation and £800 costs. The “suspended” sentence means that he will serve no prison time so long as he remains conviction-free for the next two years and completes his unpaid work.
Why the difference in sentences?
We don’t know the full extent of the mitigation, but it’s likely that there was considerable mitigation for Shadhat Hussain, who, it is suggested, had aspirations of going to medical school. He he was the only man to receive a suspended sentence of imprisonment. Press reports state that he threw three punches, which clearly gives him a much lesser role in the overall offending. Previous good character (having no convictions or cautions) and an early guilty plea (which can reduce sentences by up to a third) are both significant mitigating factors, which may have come into play here.
Will they appeal?
It seems unlikely that any appeal would be successful. This was a serious sustained attack, with a weapon, where s.18 charges were justified in respect of two members of the group.
The Sentencing Council guideline for assault can be found here. It seems that the Judge placed Shameem Uddin and Samad Uddin in category two, which carries a starting point of 6 years. Samad Uddin’s sentence would have been reduced on account of his guilty plea.
Wounding, under s.20 of the Offences Against the Person Act, carries a lesser sentence than that of s.18. Sentences of 22, 27 and 18 months (suspended in respect of the latter) do not appear to be excessive given the nature of the attack. Category one of the guideline specifies a three year starting point, with a range of 2 years six months to 4 years. Category two has a starting point of one year and six months, and a range of 1-3 years. It appears the Judge may have placed the offences between category one and two, which given the presence of the weapon (the glass bottle of Jegermeister) and the injuries caused, seems entirely appropriate. Indeed, this appears to be a category one offence, which perhaps was mitigated down from a higher sentence due to the guilty pleas offered by these defendants.