Eye-gouge thug jailed over sick­en­ing at­tack


Sunday Sun - - News - By Rob Kennedy Court Re­porter rob.kennedy@reach­plc.com

EYE-GOUG­ING thug John Turn­bull left a man al­most blind in one eye in a sick­en­ing at­tack – and the vic­tim’s part­ner was then shot by a gun­man af­ter they went to the po­lice.

Turn­bull and two other men had gone to the home of Ray­mond Rickard de­mand­ing a fight and threat­en­ing vi­o­lence af­ter a dis­pute.

A court heard the two men ended up grap­pling on the ground and Turn­bull gouged Mr Rickard’s eye with his fin­ger and he felt it “pop out”.

The hor­rific at­tack, which hap­pened out­side the home of his part­ner, Emma O’Brien, was wit­nessed by Mr Rickard’s step-chil­dren.

De­spite op­er­a­tions to reat­tach his retina, the vic­tim has been left with per­ma­nent and se­vere dam­age to his vi­sion and can see noth­ing but “frost” with that eye.

Six months later, a gun­man opened fire on the cou­ple’s home in West Den­ton, leav­ing Miss O’Brien with shot­gun pel­lets in her back and arm.

The day be­fore Turn­bull was in court, a man pros­e­cu­tors claim is his cousin, Michael Kir­ton, was sen­tenced for pos­sess­ing shot­gun car­tridges found at the scene of the shoot­ing, although al­le­ga­tions he was the gun­man were dropped.

Now Turn­bull, 25, of Stam­ford­ham Road, West Den­ton, who ad­mit­ted in­flict­ing GBH, has been jailed for three and a half years at New­cas­tle Crown Court. Judge Si­mon Batiste told him: “You gouged his eye, caus­ing, in ef­fect, his eye to pop out.

“It’s clear he had ef­fec­tively been blinded in his right eye.

“There were other peo­ple present at the time of this of­fence, in­clud­ing chil­dren and it’s clear it’s had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the vic­tim.

“Your pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions are se­ri­ous and you are as­sessed by the pro­ba­tion ser­vice as be­ing a high risk of se­ri­ous harm.”

Pros­e­cu­tors said the back­ground “ap­pears to have been a bur­glary com­mit­ted by the in­jured party’s son while Turn­bull was in pri­son”.

On De­cem­ber 2 last year, Mr Rickard was at home with Miss O’Brien when there was a bang at the door.

It was Turn­bull, with two oth­ers, and he was ag­gres­sive and try­ing to hit Mr Rickard through a win­dow. He then told him: “You are go­ing to have to get a straight­ener sorted or I’m com­ing back with petrol and I will burn you out”.

He was told to go away but then re­turned a short time later.

Lee Fish, pros­e­cut­ing, said: “Mr Rickard was aware of a dis­tur­bance out­side and, per­haps un­wisely, de­cided to go out­side.

“The de­fen­dant then went to­wards Mr Rickard and tried to push him John Turn­bull Michael Kir­ton away and Mr Rickard tried to push the de­fen­dant away.

“Both men ended up on the floor, dur­ing the course of which the de­fen­dant put his fin­ger into Mr Rickard’s eye, caus­ing it to, in his words, pop out.

“Emma O’Brien pulled the de­fen­dant off Mr Rickard and the de­fen­dant was heard to say ‘pass me a chiv and I will cut his throat’.”

Mr Rickard was taken to hos­pi­tal and had surgery to reat­tach his retina and a sec­ond pro­ce­dure to re­move liq­uid from his eye.

He said in a vic­tim im­pact state­ment: “The as­sault re­sulted in the loss of sight in my right eye.

“The best way I can de­scribe it is I can just see frost, it’s like a frozen eye. “It has changed my life com­pletely. “I’ve been forced to move away from the area I grew up in.” The court heard Turn­bull has pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions, in­clud­ing for un­law­ful wound­ing with a bro­ken bot­tle in 2016.

As well as the pri­son sen­tence, Turn­bull was given an in­def­i­nite res­train­ing or­der ban­ning him from con­tact­ing Mr Rickard and Miss O’Brien.

We pre­vi­ously re­ported how shoot­ing charges were dropped against Kir­ton, ac­cused of leav­ing pros­e­cu­tion wit­ness Miss O’Brien in­jured af­ter open­ing fire on her home.

Kir­ton was charged with a se­ries of of­fences, in­clud­ing pos­sess­ing a firearm with in­tent to en­dan­ger life.

The 26-year-old, who has pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for pos­sess­ing am­mu­ni­tion, de­nied he was the shooter.

Pros­e­cu­tors dropped the al­le­ga­tions and ac­cepted his guilty plea to pos­sess­ing am­mu­ni­tion af­ter two un­fired car­tridges with his DNA on them were found at the scene of the shoot­ing. Kir­ton, of Ford­moss, West Den­ton, was jailed for two months.

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