‘Vicious attacker’s sentence is too soft’ says agoraphobic victim from Hemel Hempstead

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A man with agoraphobia and anxiety issues says an unprovoked attack which left him needing dental treatment has now made him terrified of leaving his house.

Mark Baker, 28, a keen photographer despite his fear of crowded places, was kicked to the ground and had his face stamped on by a man while he was taking pictures along the Grand Union Canal in July.

Richard Stevens, 39, of Chardins Close, Hemel Hempstead, is thought to have come from the Fishery Inn pub in Boxmoor to begin the vicious onslaught, after telling Mark that he shouldn’t be taking photos. Stevens also made offensive sexual remarks to Mark’s girlfriend and another female friend he was with.

But Mark has lost any confidence he had due to Stevens’ charge of common assault and his sentence of a community order including six months of alcohol treatment.

Stevens, who pleaded guilty to the offence, was also given 30 days’ aggression replacement training, an 18 month supervision order and was told to pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs when he appeared at St Albans Magistrates Court on August 15.

Mark said: “I am not happy about it. Common assault could be as simple as pushing someone in the street but this guy wanted to inflict serious injury on me. It isn’t enough.”

Mark told of how he and the women tried to get past Stevens on the canal path, but he felt a knee in his back and was knocked to the floor. He suffered swollen and cut lips as well as damage to his front tooth, which requires dental treatment he cannot afford.

He added: “I don’t know if I can gain confidence again, because I struggled enough before.

“I was trapped on the canal, I couldn’t get away. I haven’t really been out since, except with family in cars.”

Police spokesman Olivia Finucane said: “We compiled all of the evidence in relation to this incident and we brought a prosecution.

“Unprovoked attacks like this are extremely serious and we continue to offer our full support to the victim.”