St Leonards man jailed for unprovoked assault on 70-year-old in Hastings town centre

A man who punched and kicked a 70-year-old man during an unprovoked assault in Hastings town centre has been jailed.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 10:48 am

Harry Bennett was outside Priory Meadow Shopping Centre at around 10.15pm on June 1, 2020, when he approached the 70-year-old victim.

After a brief discussion, the victim tried to walk away but Bennett punched him, causing him to fall to the ground, police said.

As the victim lay unconscious, Bennett continued to punch him nine times and kick him in the head before leaving the scene, according to police.

Harry Bennett. Picture: Sussex Police SUS-210517-103620001

The assault had been captured on CCTV and as officers attended and carried out an area search, they were able to identify Bennett as wearing clothing matching that of the person on the footage, police said.

He was arrested in York Gardens and taken into custody. In interview, he admitted being drunk at the time of the assault and said he had taken drugs that day, police added.

He claimed the victim had matched a description of a person who had been involved in an altercation with friends on the seafront earlier that day. Police said he was told that was not possible, as the victim had only returned to the town via train minutes before the assault took place.

Bennett, 20, unemployed, of Quebec Road, St Leonards, was charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent. At Lewes Crown Court on Friday (May 7), he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment.

Investigating officer Gavin Collins, of Hastings CID, said: “The victim in this case had been doing nothing more than walking home when he was attacked by Bennett. As well as the physical injuries he suffered, including a nasty cut to the head, a broken rib, extensive bruising and a minor brain injury, the assault has had a serious and lasting emotional impact on him.

“Bennett showed absolutely no concern for his victim, continuing to assault him even as he was lying unresponsive on the ground.

“Thanks to a swift response by officers and CCTV footage of the assault, we were able to quickly apprehend Bennett and start building a strong case against him.

“This resulted in a guilty plea in court and we were pleased to see the judge hand Bennett a custodial sentence for his deplorable actions that day.”