A judge questioned why the magistrates had sent an assault case to the crown court – when the man’s co-accused had been dealt with at the lower court.

Gareth Hughes, 41, pleaded guilty last month to attacking his step-daughter’s boyfriend in Didcot in August 2019.

Hughes later told police that he’d punched and kicked the man twice after he was told that his victim had been hitting his oldest grandson.

Two co-defendants, including a 17-year-old boy, pleaded not guilty but later received community orders or youth rehabilitation orders at the magistrates’ court.

Judge Nigel Daly questioned why the defendants had not all been sentenced together.

Sentencing him to an 18 month community order on Thursday, the judge told Hughes: “You, together with two others, gave your victim a good going over, punching him repeatedly, he then went to the ground and he was repeatedly kicked.

“The damage to his face was probably caused by the kicks. You accept in your basis of plea punching him twice and kicking him twice.

“What is rather extraordinary in this case and I am going to make further enquiries is that before the magistrates one of [your] co-defendants was only 17 and I can understand why therefore they might have thought it proper to deal with him in a different way to how they dealt with you.

“The other co-defendant was not [a youth]. Furthermore, neither of them pleaded guilty. There was a trial before the magistrates. The magistrates sentenced the 17 year old to a referral order and in relation to the adult, despite the fact he did not plead guilty, passed a community order upon him.”

He added: “I cannot understand why I am dealing with somebody who’s been sent to the crown court by the magistrates who pleaded guilty before the [justices] who considered they didn’t have sufficient powers of sentence and sent it up here but then proceeded to try your two co-defendants, find them guilty and give the adult a community order.

“It makes absolutely no sense as far as I can see. But I am not criticising the magistrates because I don’t know the full circumstances of what happened.”

Hughes, of Druids Walk, Didcot, was ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work and up to 15 rehabilitation days as part of his 18 month community order.

Mitigating, Richard Davies said his client was working and looked after a number of people. There had been significant delay in the case reaching court.

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