Woman escapes prison after attack on charity worker

1:00pm Thursday 8th November 2012

A YOUNG woman who slammed a brick into the face of a charity worker, scarring her for life, has escaped prison, and been reluctantly freed by a top judge who described it as a 'wholly exceptional' case.

Jade Daniels 20, who suffers from high functioning autism, was told she had already served the equivalent of a 30-month jail sentence because of the time she has spent on remand in custody following the vicious attack almost two years ago.

Judge Peter Lakin said he was bound by sentencing guidelines, which meant had he imposed a jail term, she would have had only a short period left to serve on licence which he said was 'grossly insufficient'.

He told her: "I must take account of my duty to the public to ensure that nobody else is subjected to this type of violence by you."

He told her after careful and anxious thought, he was imposing a community order for the maximum period the law would allow - three years during which she would be under constant supervision by the Probation Service.

He said he was doing so however, on the understanding that the service liaised urgently with a consultant psychologist and the Autism Society, to ensure a structure was put in place for care and medical treatment.

He also took the unusual step of ordering regular up-date reports on what treatment she was receiving, and her progress.

He warned her: "If you fail to co-operate in any way, you will come straight back to this court before me, and I will have no hesitation in sending you to custody."

The court had heard that Daniels, who has previous convictions for harassment and criminal damage, had attacked charity worker Angela Gray 44, with a housebrick, slamming it into her face, after she caught her lighting a fire in a park area at Duttons Pond in Flixton on March 21 last year.

Mrs Gray and her daughter Danielle, who had been out for a late afternoon walk, stamped out the flames, and she then picked up a box of matches from the ground.

Mrs Gray, a fundraising manager for a charity, said later that she could tell there was something wrong with Daniels, who spoke without any tone to her voice, showed no emotion, and appeared quite 'quite blank'.

The court was told Daniels who was 18 at the time, became agitated, and her younger brother who was with her, began goading her to get the matches back.

Daniels tried to pull down a branch from a tree, then picked up a full house brick, and followed Mrs Gray as she and her daughter walked away.

She sensed there was going to be a problem and asked her daughter to call the police.

She tried to reason with the girl, telling her to put the brick down, but as she walked on, she heard her running up behind her.

She turned to see Daniels with the brick raised in the air, her eyes were blazing, and she gave a 'sick' laugh before slamming the brick into her face. She then ran off laughing as Mrs Gray collapsed in agony on the ground.

Mrs Gray was left with lacerations to her top lip which later required stitches, leaving a permanent scar; a chipped tooth, and injuries to her nose, wrist and hand.

When later interviewed by police officers, her interpretation of events was that she had felt under threat after the matches were taken from her.

Richard Littler defending, said Daniels' condition, which was not treatable, meant she had fixed behaviour patterns and lacked flexibility of thought.

He said it was accepted that she had been a public nuisance, but doctors considered her to be immature, and her behaviour could have been due to her medical condition.

Just weeks after the attack, Daniels of Arundel Avenue, Urmston, had carried out a campaign of harassment against pensioner Fred Ryan.

It included sending 13 deliveries of pizzas, Indian and Chinese food to his home in Flixton in just an hour.

Daniels, who had pleaded guilty to an offence of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mrs Gray, was told by Judge Lakin at Manchster's Minshull Street Crown Court that the attack had had a "significant and enduring" impact on both her and her family.

He told her: "She was being simply public spirited in trying to stamp out the fire you started, and removing the matches. Your response was to pick up a brick.

"It has had both a psychological and physical impact, and I suspect she will live with the memory of what happened for the rest of her life."

He said normally, an offence of such seriousness would be met by a lengthy period of prison, but her case was 'wholly exceptional'.

He said: "On the basis of medical advice, it is quite clear you suffer from high functioning autism, which was the driving force behind what happened.

"Your liability is considerably reduced, as your perception of what happened, was distorted by your medical condition."

Daniels had pleaded guilty to a charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

In the late 1990s, Mrs Gray spearheaded the Oliver's Army group to campaign against service cuts at Trafford General Hospital.


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