Thu, 20 Jul 2017
A travellers’ blood feud over a woman left one man with broken legs and another with his throat cut.
Victim Michael Smith later told police he had felt his thigh bone snap as he was rammed against a wall by a van.
High on cocaine, his attacker then reversed and, as 53-year-old Mr Smith lay helpless on the ground, tried to run him over.
Last Thursday, 26-year-old Jesse Gregory was jailed for 16 years for his part in the violence at Aldermaston.
He had earlier threatened to shoot Mr Smith, while boasting of being the best bare knuckle fighter on the Old Stocks Farm site.
Michael Roques, prosecuting, said the victim’s son, Henry Smith, had returned from a Mortimer pub to his home at Old Stocks Farm when he saw Gregory drinking alcohol with friends and snorting cocaine.
He added: “Mr Gregory was with another man, Thomas Small. All was friendly and, in fact, Mr Smith drank beer with the group.
“Mr Smith returned to his plot and went to bed. He and his wife were woken at 5am with Mr Gregory banging on the door and shouting about Mr Smith having an affair with Thomas Small’s wife. He heard the defendant say he was going to get a gun and shoot him.”
Mr Smith and his wife rang the police and also called his father Michael, the head of the family, who hurried over from Burghfield to try to sort out the trouble.
Mr Roques said Mr Smith senior tried to mediate, but “the defendant’s reaction was to threaten Mr Smith, saying that he was dead and would not leave the site alive”.
Gregory walked off, the court heard, but reappeared moments later in a light blue Toyota RAV-4 van which hurtled straight at Mr Smith senior, striking him and pinning him against a wall.
Mr Roques said: “He felt his leg snap,” while the other was gashed open to the bone.
Mr Smith senior slumped to the ground as Gregory reversed then aimed the van at him again in a bid to run him over.
Mr Roques said others dragged Mr Smith away, saving his life, and added: “Instead of hitting Mr Smith, the vehicle collided with a brick pillar... with such force it knocked a number of bricks out.”
Gregory fled and Mr Smith was taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, where metal rods were used to rebuild his leg.
The next morning Gregory arrived at the same hospital with his throat slashed, a deep laceration running from beneath his ear along his lower jaw.
Who inflicted the injury was never resolved, the court heard, but Gregory told police he had acted in self defence, claiming: “[He] slashed me with a knife... he had a gun. It’s self defence.
“It was the guy in hospital’s son that slashed me.”
He said he had been trying to arrange a “fair fight” between Henry Smith and Mr Small, because the former was having an affair with the latter’s wife.
He said that after the altercation gunshots were fired at him as he drove away.
However, forensic tests, witness statements and CCTV footage from the site did not support Gregory’s version of events.
Gregory was initially charged with attempted murder, but this was withdrawn when he admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent on February 26 last year.
Matthew Kirk, defending, conceded a “pattern of violence and anti-social behaviour”, but said that his client’s previous offending had often involved more “bombast” than actual violence.
In sentencing Gregory to 16 years imprisonment, Judge Stephen John told him that his victim still needed medical treatment and had been unable to continue as a landscape gardener.
He added: “I detect no real mitigating factors. You demonstrate pro-criminal attitudes and plainly support the use of violence to resolve problems in your life and the lives of others.
“You express no remorse for the offence or for the injuries you inflicted. You are an entrenched offender with a willingness to use violence, sometimes extreme violence, whether for financial gain or to enforce your own form of retribution on others.
“I’ve absolutely no doubt that you pose a significant risk of serious harm. You can go down.”
'A DEEPLY WORRYING PICTURE'
* JESSE Gregory, at the age of 26, presented a “deeply worrying picture”, said Judge Stephen John.
Gregory began his criminal career aged just 13 and since then, the level of violence he has used has steadily increased.
Gregory now has convictions for 42 offences and was out of prison on early release licence when he committed his latest act of savagery.
Those offences include common assault, battery, possessing offensive weapons, racially aggravated harassment, drink-driving, a series of home burglaries and kidnapping.
Judge John referred, in particular, to the kidnapping offence in which Gregory abducted and terrorised two youths, risking their lives by keeping them prisoner in their own car for two hours while he drove it like a maniac and threatened to shoot them if they resisted.
He told Gregory: “You had already accumulated eight convictions for violence or weapons by the age of 16.”
The fact that Gregory posed a serious risk to the public, added Judge John, was “amply demonstrated by... the present offence and your previous history.”
Gregory was made subject to an extended sentence to protect the public, meaning he must serve at least two-thirds of the 16-year prison term before applying for parole.
Judge John told Gregory he will not automatically be released on licence after that “but only when the Parole Board directs... that it’s no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you should be confined”.
If the board is not convinced he has reformed, he will go on to serve the entire term.