Man handed community penalty after after spate of ‘random’ attacks on strangers

A MAN who carried out a spate of attacks on ‘random strangers’ has been handed a community penalty.

In one of the seemingly unprovoked attacks, Neal Thomas assaulted an Oxford doctor who was out training for a marathon.

The 44-year-old of no fixed abode had already admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He was sentenced for that attack at Oxford Crown Court yesterday.

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Outlining the case prosecutor Jonathan Stone said the victim – named only in court as Dr Baskerville – had been out for a run on Sunday, September 22.

At the time he was training for a marathon and on Canal Street, Oxford, at about 7.15am he crossed paths with Thomas.

The court heard that as they passed each other Dr Baskerville felt something on his ankle and he was sent to the floor.

He went on to confront Thomas about the violence who ‘put his fists up in a sparring motion’.

The victim then left the scene and later spotted Thomas again near his home.

He was arrested for the attack on November 12.

Detailing the injuries prosecutors said that the victim suffered bruising, discomfort and a broken rib as a result of the violence.

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It was also revealed at court that Thomas had committed other violent offences in July and August.

In one incident, a student was attacked by Thomas as she walked.

During that outburst she was punched to the side of the head despite saying nothing to her aggressor.

An eyewitness took a photo of Thomas who was later identified by police.

The third incident detailed to the court took place on Banbury Road where he was shouting and acting aggressively.

The victim in that incident did not come forward, but it was witnessed by another passer-by and Thomas was then arrested not far from the scene.

In total Thomas has three previous convictions for seven offences.

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In mitigation, defence barrister James Reilly asked the court to follow the recommendation from the National Probation Service of a community order.

He added that the case had taken so long to come to court for sentencing that his client had been in prison since December, which represented a 12-month jail term already served.

Sentencing, Judge Maria Lamb ordered a 12-month community order.

She said: “This is a last chance to make sure that you get on top of the problem, you have got support with it.

“I am able to do it because you have spent that significant time in custody.

“We can’t have this situation of attacks on random strangers.”

As part of that order Thomas will have a mental health treatment for one year.

He must also have to have rehabilitation treatment for 10 days as well as pay a statutory victim surcharge.