Offender used jalapeno in ‘bizzare, mindless’ attack

Exeter Crown Court

Exeter Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A take-away customer has been ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to a complete stranger who he attacked and humiliated in front of a group of jeering youths.

Dean Langford picked an argument with victim Samuel Daley at the Pizza Pronto in Sidmouth and stuffed a jalapeno pepper into his mouth before punching him repeatedly in the face.

He and his friends congratulated each other while shouting ‘you’ve been battered’ as Mr Daley staggered away.

Trainee panel beater Langford, 21, who is at college in Exeter and works in Willand, was on a night out with pals when Mr Daley went into the Radway shop a few minutes after them.

They started mocking him because he was wearing a long scarf and although he ignored them and chatted to a friend who works at the take-away, they provoked an argument as he left.

Langford then squared up to him, tried to stuff the pepper into his mouth, and attacked him when he spat it out.

He was caught on CCTV punching Mr Daley in the face repeatedly until his victim was knocked into the road, and then bending down over him to carry on the attack as he tried to get up.

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The footage showed Langford laughing with his friends and one of them giving him a celebratory pat on the face as they went back into the shop.

Langford, of Shute Road, Axminster, admitted causing actual bodily harm and was jailed for 12 months, suspended for 18 months, ordered to pay £1,000 compensation, curfewed for three months and told to do 100 hours of unpaid community work at Exeter Crown Court.

Recorder Mr Martin Meeke, QC, told him: “This was gratuitous violence in a public place. To your credit you have not made any excuses and have apologised.”

Mr Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said Langford was on his way home from a friend’s house just after midnight in March last year when he went into Pizza Pronto. He was with a group of friends and they made comments about Mr Daley, which he ignored. As he left, Langford followed him and attacked him.

Mr Richings said: “Langford asked Mr Daley if he was hungry and stuffed a jalapeno pepper in his mouth, which he spat out. As soon as he did that, Langford attacked him and punched him seven times in the face.”

The court was shown the CCTV, which showed the attack continuing in the road. A total of 12 blows left Mr Daley with facial bruising and a cut on his chin which needed three stitches.

Mr Richings said the victim was forced to take time off work and was now worried about going out at night in Sidmouth.

A victim impact statement said: “At the expense of their fun, I have been left battered and bruised. I find it hard to deal with an assault which I look at as mindless violence.”

Mr John Dyer, defending, handed the judge a sheet of references and said Langford is a hard-working and deeply regrets what he did, adding: “He accepts what happened was despicable and there was no excuse for it. It was not planned and was bizarre and mindless.”

Mr Dyer said Langford had been deeply affected by the death of his best friend in a car crash a couple of years ago and is helping his family raise money for a skate park in his memory.