Man who punched mayor in the eye gets suspended jail sentence

The man convicted of punching the mayor of Worthing has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Monday, 12th September 2016, 4:20 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:26 am
Mayor Sean McDonald was assaulted on July 29 after leaving a meeting at the seafront. Picture: Derek Martin

Appearing at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Brendon Michael Hayhurst, 53, was given an eight-week sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Hayhurst, who gave his address as Victoria Court in Victoria Road, Worthing, punched mayor Sean McDonald in the eye on July 29 as the mayor helped an injured man on the seafront.

The injuries had been previously described to be tender and uncomfortable, both above and below the eye.

Speaking at the previous hearing, prosecutor Martina Sherlock told how Mr McDonald was attending to a man with a head injury when Hayhurst approached him and began shouting at him.

Hayhurst then made an obscene gesture with his left hand and another man tried to pull him away. Hayhurst continued to shout at the mayor and punched him in the right eye, according to Ms Sherlock.

A nearby officer heard the commotion and arrested him for assault.

Hayhurst pleaded guilty to the charge of assault by beating when he appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, August 16. The case was adjourned until Monday for sentencing to allow the probation service to provide a report on Hayhurst’s mental health.

Mayor Sean McDonald, who attended the hearing, criticised the result: “I do not think prison is appropriate, unless in a last resort, but this case was a last resort.”

“It’s not going to deter me from walking around”, said Mr McDonald, when asked about how it would affect him in his role as mayor.

Representing Hayhurst, Parissa Henney cited his struggle with alcohol and overall mental health. “He understands that his actions were not reasonable”, she told the court.

District judge Christopher James, presiding, said: “In respect of this offence I come to the conclusion that it is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

However, he chose to suspend the sentence, taking into account the defendant’s guilty plea, vulerability, and remorse. “It is a greater benefit for everyone at this stage”, he added.

Hayhurst was also ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £115.

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