Hastings man and others carried out 'frightening' vigilante attack on child sex offender

Three prisoners at HMP Lewes carried out a ‘frightening’ attack on a fellow inmate because they thought he was a child sex offender.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 7:53 pm
The assault happened inside Lewes Prison

Kyle Thatcher, Lewis Watts and Ashley Wallace waited for the man to return to his cell before trapping him inside and attacking him, a court heard.

Wallace, 28, of York Place in Brighton pleaded guilty to assaulting the man. Thatcher, 27, of HMP Elmley and Watts, 24, of Priory Road in Hastings were convicted of the same offence.

They were sentenced at Lewes Crown Court today for the attack, which happened on February 21, 2017.

The assault happened inside Lewes Prison

Defendants 'decided to take the law into their own hands'

Judge Mark van der Zwart said: “On the day in question the victim had been away from his cell in the same wing as these three defendants.

“Information had come to the attention of the defendants that the man had many years ago been in trouble for harming or committing a sexual offence against a child and these three defendants plainly decided to take the law into their own hands and to attack him simply for what they believed the man had done all those years before.”

The three defendants ‘trapped’ the victim in his cell and punched and kicked him in a ‘sustained assault’, the court heard.

He received a cut to his head and black eyes in the attack.

Judge van der Zwart continued: “It must have been a very frightening and painful incident for him.”

Influence of Spice drug in Lewes Prison

Wallace’s defence barrister, Robert Harding, said his client now feels remorse for what happened.

He continued: “The defendant was under the influence of Spice during his stay in prison, certainly during this incident.

“Clear progress has been made and a corner is being turned.”

He told the court that Wallace is now free of drugs and working as a painter and decorator.

Thatcher’s defence barrister, Michael Shilliday, said his client has ‘significant mental health difficulties’ and has been in prison for some time.

He added: “He has been off drugs for the longest time since he was 19 years old. A corner is being turned.

“He has spoken positively about wanting to turn his back on the way his life has been going so far.”

Watts ‘a young man who finds it difficult to open up’

Aidan Harvey, representing Watts, described his client as ‘a young man who finds it difficult to open up’.

He told the court how Watts’ mother died when he was five and he grew up in care, having to fight for everything.

“The victim apparently assaulted somebody who was aged four and that caused particularly anxiety on the wing [of Lewes Prison where the defendants lived].”

He said Watts lives his life by a ‘very strict set of codes’ but said he was ‘very personable when you are not challenging him’.

Thatcher and Watts were both jailed for two years.

Wallace was given an 18 month jail sentence, suspended for two years. He will have to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and attend rehabilitation sessions.