A GANG of hooded attackers punched and kicked a man unconscious down a dark alley in Worcester then 'gloated' about what they had done.

Four men and a youth took part in the ‘ferocious’ attack in Black Horse Walk in Lowesmoor, Worcester and left the scene celebrating, one of the men even returning to pick the victim’s pocket.

Only one defendant - 26-year-old Martin Coffey of Maple Avenue, Worcester - was sentenced at Worcester Crown Court on Friday, receiving an immediate jail sentence. His co-defendant Asfandyar Kiani, 20, of Ludstock Close, Worcester, did not attend the hearing, Coffey suggesting to his barrister that his co-defendant was probably still in bed even though it was lunchtime. Kiani had previously claimed he was self-isolating with Covid-19. A warrant not backed for bail was issued for his arrest.

The court heard that Coffey had previous convictions including for robbery and possession of an offensive weapon, an axe, in December 2016 for which he was jailed for eight months. Two others - Brennan Kilner, aged 22, of Sidbury, Worcester and Mohammed Raja, 21, of Avon Road - are due to be sentenced for the same offence, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, next month.

Harinderpal Dhami, prosecuting, played CCTV footage of the hooded gang chasing two men, catching up with the victim, Kester Jardine, and raining down punches and kicks, rendering him unconscious. The victim has no memory of the attack at around midnight on March 26 last year, waking up in hospital. The group had offered the two men ‘weed’ and they had refused which is when the men gave chase.

One independent witness saw Kiani reach into the victim’s pocket and remove his wallet as he lay unconscious on the ground. The victim was knocked unconscious within seconds and his friend, who got away, returned to find his friend in an ambulance. “It’s a group attack, quite ferocious” said Mr Dhami. The victim suffered pain and soreness to his face and grazing and swelling to his hands and elbows, later complaining of a loss of dexterity which affected his work in a kitchen. His nose was damaged but not broken.

“I feel it has increased my anxiety. I never previously had any reason to be fearful when simply walking through the town centre” said Mr Jardine in a victim personal statement.

Amanda O’Mara, defending, said Coffey had lost his baby in tragic circumstances two years ago. His wheelchair-bound step-father, for whom he had been a carer, died in March this year which ‘added to his grief’.

She said he had been drinking heavily at the time of the offence and could not remember it.

Judge Nicolas Cartwright said: “As everybody knows, kicking somebody on the ground often causes very serious injuries, sometimes life-changing injuries, sometimes death.”

He said a number of weapons were used - the shod feet of all five attackers including Coffey - and that the victim had been deliberately targeted when he was obviously vulnerable and outnumbered.

The judge said once the victim had been knocked unconscious he was 'completely defenceless'.

He identified a number of further aggravating features - the location in a darkened alleyway or lane, the timing of the offence at midnight and the ongoing effect upon the victim who, even 12 months after the assault, was left 'fearful and anxious' and for months afterwards had ongoing physical effects including the loss of dexterity in his hands which had had an impact at work.

"Another aggravating feature is that you and the group were seen gloating and celebrating about what you had just done afterwards" said the judge.

Judge Cartwright also took it as an aggravating feature that they left their victim unconscious in the alleyway without any of the group caring what happened to him. The defendant's previous convictions also aggravated the offence in the judge's view. Coffey has convictions for robbery, possession of an offensive weapons, disorderly behaviour and failed to comply with previous community orders, one made as recently as January this year.

"The progress report from the probation service isn't flattering to you" the judge told Coffey, referring to his failure to comply with the terms of non-custodial sentences. "Do you pose a danger or risk to the public? Plainly yes" said the judge.

Coffey was convicted of two battery offences while awaiting sentence for this offence and the judge added that he was 'doubtful' about his prospect of rehabilitation.

He did take into account Coffey's strong personal mitigation. "Tragically you lost a child which must be unendurable for any parent," he said.

However, the judge also observed that Coffey had used that as mitigation before 'and you have been given chances because of it and you didn't take them'.

Judge Cartwright sentenced him to 22 months in prison - 21 months for the attack and a month for two failures to surrender to custody.

Given the defendant's limited means no order was made for compensation or costs.