Eye-gouge thug jailed over sickening attack
VICTIM’S PARTNER LATER SHOT IN HOME
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.