Vicious attack – just because trio looked at man as he parked at pub
A MAN with a history of violence carried out a frenzied and sustained attack on three complete strangers – because they looked in his direction.
David Dowler, 23, launched the "truly shocking" assault after his victims looked at him when he drove at speed into a North Somerset pub car park.
He got out of his vehicle at the Full Quart pub in Hewish and attacked the pub's manager Lee Thorne, his wife Helen and his mother Angela.
The trio had been innocently moving items between cars in the car park when they looked over at Dowler on October 31 last year, Bristol Crown Court.
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After attacking his victims in a prolonged and unprovoked assault, he collected an iron bar from his car and smashed the front and back windscreens of Mr Thorne's car.
Mrs Thorne suffered two fractured ribs as she was pushed or thrown to the floor by Dowler and left emotionally traumatised by the incident, prompting her to move out of the pub where she was working.
Mr Thorne, who was kicked across the body by Dowler as he lay defenceless on the ground, claimed the attack led to him suffering hearing loss.
Dowler, of no fixed abode, admitted causing grievous bodily harm to Mrs Thorne, actual bodily harm to Mr Thorne and causing criminal damage. He was acquitted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Thorne following a trial.
Richard Posner, prosecuting, said Mrs Thorne had been left psychologically scarred by the attack.
He said: "She has had to move home to be closer to her friends and family. She can't get what he did to her out of her mind. She has no idea why he did what he did and took it out on her family. She found watching her son being attacked very difficult to live with."
Mr Posner said Dowler had 14 convictions for 36 previous offences over the last eight years, including battery, a road rage assault, actual bodily harm, possessing a knife and smashing up a car with a baseball bat while people were inside the vehicle.
Bernard O'Brien, mitigating, said his client had "severe" trouble controlling his temper. He said he had been examined by a psychiatrist and that the probation service believed he had "turned a corner" and was making plans for the future.
Recorder James Watson QC, who jailed Dowler for 18 months, said Dowler had carried out the attack while stressed having split up with his girlfriend. He said the attack was "mindless, vicious, sustained and frightening", and that it was fortunate more serious harm was not caused.
During the trial, Dowler admitted he had been unable to fully control his body during the attack and had suffered "a sort of out-of-body experience".