Two vigilantes who viciously assaulted a wannabe police officer after wrongly mistaking him for a ‘troublemaker’ have been jailed.
Victim Ali Akhtar, 21, suffered a broken leg, broken nose and ‘significant knee injuries’ after being set upon by Mohammed Akhtar and Daniel Gillett on Richmond Road in Accrington.
Burnley Crown Court heard how the two offenders were travelling along a road in a car looking for youths who had been causing trouble at a car sales business on Victoria Street.
Peter Barr, prosecuting, told the court how the victim was speaking to people in a car when both defendants got out of their vehicle and got into an ‘angry confrontation’ with Mr Akhtar.
The court heard how the victim ran off and fell off a wall onto the pavement below, breaking his leg.
The two offenders then continued to attack him causing him to suffer a broken nose.
He was taken to hospital for treatment on his injuries including ‘substantial ligament damage’ and bruising and swelling to his face and lip.
Mr Barr said his left leg ‘won’t return to 100 per cent use’ and before the incident Mr Akhtar was a ‘young man planning a career in the police’.
He told the court how he was a ‘very fit and active young man’ and ‘prior to sustaining the injuries ran frequently’.
Akhtar, 34, of Longridge Road, Ribbleton, and Gillett, 28, of Lockhart Road, Preston, both pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and were jailed for 16 months.
Anthony Longworth, defending Gillett, said: “This was a case of mistaken identity. This was not a pre-planned attack and there were no masks or weapons used.”
Emma Gilsenan, defending Akhtar, said it was ‘out of character’.
She said: “There were a number of issues on the business park and he believed the complainant was involved.
There were a number of police reports dating back to July 2011 setting out complaints of thefts and damage to vehicles and causing distress to business owners and residents around Victoria Street in Accrington.
“This was a one-off incident albeit very regrettable and something he is very ashamed of. He is appalled by his actions.”
Recorder Simon Medland QC said he would be ‘failing in his public duty’ if didn’t send them to jail.
He said the victim was ‘wholly blameless of a pointlessly violent assault’.
Victim left ‘shell of former self and scared to leave his home’
Victim Ali Akhtar said the attack has left him a ‘shell of his former self’ and he is now too scared to leave his own home.
The former Accrington Academy pupil said he was previously a ‘happy-go-lucky’ person with an active social life, however the unprovoked assault has left him a ‘semi-recluse’ at his home on Lynton Road in Accrington.
Mr Akhtar, who was in the second year of a police and criminal law course at Blackburn University, said he has now had to leave the course and abandon his dreams of becoming a police officer because of the extent of the injuries.
He has to walk with the aid of a stick and must wear a leg cast for the next three years.
He told the Observer: “I was really scared and terrified. I just dropped everything, my keys and wallet and phone on the floor.
"If you’ve done something and know someone is coming after you it’s different but this was mistaken identity.
“Since being attacked I can’t leave the house on my own. I always have to take someone with me. I can’t even bear standing in the garden on my own.
“It’s hit me harder because I was assaulted for no reason. Before the attack I was a ‘happy go lucky’ person but since then I have become a shell of my former self.
“It’s had a massive impact on my relationship with family, friends and colleagues. I used to be a social person and would now describe myself as a semi-recluse.
"When I’m not at work I stay alone in my room and struggle to have conversations with my family.
"I used to have a good social life with friends and go to the gym but my social life is non-existent now.”
Mr Akhtar said he has been forced to withdraw from his police training course due to his injuries.
He added: “All my life I’ve been working towards a policing career and to become a police officer. That’s been my long-term dream since primary school.
“I fear all my work has been wasted and I will not be able to pursue my ambition. My left knee will never recover. I can’t see a future. I can’t achieve my goals in life.”
Mr Akhtar, who now works at a call centre in Accrington and is a trained Army reservist, said he now ‘doesn’t know what the future holds’.
Speaking after the sentencing hearing, he said: “A longer prison sentence would’ve been nice but at least justice has been served.”