By Karon Kelly
Three attackers who left a man for dead in Sunderland after stealing his wallet and watch have been put behind bars for a total of more than 20 years.
Keith Wharton was found slumped in a pool of blood in the street with a catalogue of horrific injuries after the ferocious beating last summer.
The 49-year-old was taken to hospital with bleeding to the brain, a collapsed lung, gross facial swelling and a fractured collar bone, eye socket, breast bone and ribs.
He had bled extensively at the scene of the assault at Wylam Wharf in Sunderland last August and attackers Stephen Blyth, Philip Hope and Leslie Swainston all had his blood soaked on their trainers.
Judge Robert Adams jailed Blyth, 29, for nine years, Hope, 41, for six years and Swainston, 30 for six years.
Judge Adams said the attack was “sustained and brutal”.
The judge added: “He was clearly kicked and stamped on by all three of you.
“This was a joint effort on the part of all three of you, each supporting the other, whatever the other did.”
Judge Adams told the trio of attackers: “It is impossible to say any of you had a leading role and equally impossible to say any had a minor role.
“Mr Wharton may well have started or been involved at the start of the argument, nonetheless, he did not deserve the degree of the attack which took place thereafter.”
The heard that despite his property being stolen and the severity of his injuries, Mr Wharton had managed to summon help himself after the brutal assault.
Prosecutor Jolyon Perks told the court: “The one thing that was left with him was his mobile phone. He was severely injured at the time but was able to dial 999.”
Mr Perks said Mr Wharton was attacked shortly after 9pm and it was after 11pm when the police tracked him down.
Mr Perks said: “He was lying on his side next to the railings of Wylam Wharf in Sunderland.”
The court heard, more than six months after the attack, Mr Wharton still suffers pain, has had to undergo further surgery and now needs a hearing aid in his left ear.
Mr Perks said: “He believes he was seriously assaulted and left for dead.
“He feels if he hadn’t managed to call 999, well, he doesn’t know what would have happened to him.”
Blyth was found guilty by a jury of causing grievous bodily harm with intent by a jury. He had denied the charge.
Swainston and Hope admitted the offence.
The court heard all three attackers, along with Mr Wharton, were living in a Salvation Army hostel at High Street East at the time of the attack.
Mr Wharton had been drinking with the three men at the riverside before he was attacked and has little recollection of what actually happened.
Defence barristers said all three attackers have been doing well in custody on remand.
Source: North News & Pictures