Builder’s crowbar attack on homeless friend in Lewes was ‘clearly not self-defence’, judge says

Lewes Crown Court
Lewes Crown Court

A builder who hit his homeless friend over the head with a crowbar was ‘clearly’ not acting in self defence, a judge has said.

Chris Brown, of Castle Ditch Lane in Lewes, was awoken by his friend Julian Walters falling drunkenly and smashing a window at his house late at night on October 24, 2016, Lewes Crown Court was told today.

Fortunately his injuries were not as serious as they might have been

Judge Charles Kemp

Brown, 50, was originally charged with wounding with intent but a guilty plea to assault causing actual bodily harm was accepted by the prosecution. He appeared in court this morning for sentencing.

Prosecutor Neil Sandys told the court: “The victim, Mr Walters, went to the defendant’s address at about 10.30pm.

“He knocked on the front door of this defendant’s house where he was staying. There was no reply to the front door and Mr Walters continued to knock on the door for approximately half an hour.”

With no reply at the front door, Mr Walters went round the back of the house and ‘fell into a window’, breaking it, the prosecutor said.

This woke the defendant, who came out of the house. At this point Mr Walters stepped towards him, the court heard.

The prosecutor continued: “Mr Brown perceives there is some risk to him.

“He strikes Mr Walters with an item that he had picked up, that was later discovered to be a crowbar.”

The blow to Mr Walters’ head caused him to stumble. Mr Brown then struck him again, again over the head, the court heard.

Police attended the scene and Mr Walters was taken to hospital for treatment, the prosecutor said.

The court heard that Mr Walters had received cuts to his head, one of which required stitches. His blood was found on one end of the crowbar.

The prosecutor, Mr Sandys, described the incident as ‘excessive self-defence’.

He added: “Rather than pushing or shoving, he used an iron crowbar.”

Beverly Cripps, defending Brown, said: “Mr Brown is regretful of his reactions and the injury he caused to his friend.

“Mr Walters was somebody who was homeless at the time and rather befriended by Mr Brown.

“It seemed that on this occasion that Mr Walters wanted to come and visit [but] was not quite himself [through drink].”

Ms Cripps added that Mr Brown is a builder, which she argued explains the presence of the crowbar.

Sentencing Brown, Judge Charles Kemp said the incident was ‘clearly not self-defence’. He remarked that crowbars can be ‘lethal’.

He added: “Fortunately his injuries were not as serious as they might have been.”

He gave Brown credit for his guilty plea and sentenced him to eight months in prison, suspended for two years.

Brown was ordered to take part in an alcohol treatment programme and must complete 15 rehabilitation days.