Leeds beggar with 'wretched life' attacked stranger outside Briggate McDonalds

A man begging for drug money in Leeds city centre carried out a "mindless" assault on a stranger outside McDonalds in Briggate.

Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 6:00 am

Leeds Crown Court heard Stephen Richardson, 35, had started taking drugs at the age of eight and began using heroin when he was just 11 years old.

Read More

Read More
Robber pulled 'Rambo style' knife on Leeds shop owner before threatening to kill...

A probation officer said he had lost his script for Subutex - a drug used to treat opioid addiction - and was begging for money to buy drugs when the attack took place on October 8 last year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The assault took place outside McDonalds in Briggate. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Prosecutor Andrew Horton said the assault victim had been walking to his gym when he passed Richardson begging outside Hotel Chocolat in Boar Lane at around 10.15am.

Richardson spat on the floor and shouted 'Oi' at the man, who ignored him and kept on walking.

The court heard Richardson followed him while swearing and shouting abuse, and then attacked him outside McDonalds in Briggate.

The victim managed to block the first punch but was hit in the face twice, falling towards the restaurant window and then onto the floor. He woke up to the sound of a woman's voice and could not see anything for five minutes.

Mr Horton said the "mindless" assault had been traumatic for the victim, who now had trouble sleeping and avoided social commitments.

Officers arresting Richardson shortly after the attack said that he was behaving erratically and referencing how he had previously assaulted a police officer.

He told them he would bite himself and spit the flesh at them as he was infected with diseases, Mr Horton said.

Richardson, of Roseville Road, Leeds, admitted a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court heard officers found a stash of painkillers when he was searched at the station and Richardson had already been sentenced to 14 days in prison for possessing a Class C drug in relation to that offence.

Mr Horton said Richardson's history of offending dated back to 1999, with 34 convictions for 67 offences.

The probation officer said he had a lifelong problem with substance abuse and reported being abused as a child.

Stephen Welford, mitigating, said Richardson's support worker had noticed a change in his attitude while he was being held at HMP Leeds awaiting his sentence.

He added: "At the age of 35, he has absolutely nothing apart from a history of drug misuse and offending."

Sentencing him to eight months in jail, Judge Mushtaq Khokar said: "You have lived a wretched life. Looking at your record, there has been offending in order to feed your drug habit. It's quite clear.

"This cycle will continue until you yourself resolve or determine to put an end to it. It's not an easy task. I have people like you appearing before me on a regular basis. It's sad that as a society we can't do more to wean people off drugs."

The judge said he was sympathetic to Richardson's plight but he must also protect the public from harm.