Tunbridge Wells attack on teenager with autism sees two jailed

Marshall Bourne
Image caption Marshall Bourne had to wear a support collar for four months

Two men who attacked a teenager with autism and left him with a fractured neck have been jailed.

Chay Hart and Wayne Butterworth punched and kicked Marshall Bourne, then 17, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in January.

He is now too scared to leave his home and his mother was told by the pair her son should be locked up because of his autism, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

Butterworth was jailed for 28 months and Hart for 32 months. Both admitted inflicting GBH before magistrates.

During the hearing, the court heard the pair did not know Mr Bourne, now 18, was autistic and it was accepted they found out after the attack.

After the assault, the Mr Bourne's mother Kerry Bourne drove her son down the road to identify his attackers and told them he had autism, the court heard.

Judge Julian Smith told the men: "Your response was not contrition or shock at your own conduct.

"It was to tell his mother that she should have kept him locked up."

'Cowardly attack'

The court heard his autism leads him to verbalise his thoughts and the attack happened after he walked past the men and commented: "What are they looking at?"

Butterworth, 50, of Greggs Wood Road, Tunbridge Wells, threw him to the ground and punched and kicked him and Hart, 30, of Colebrook Road, in the town, kicked him in the head repeatedly, the court was told.

After the hearing, Bradley Bourne, Marshall's father, said: "Marshall's confidence has been severely knocked by the direct implications of what has happened to him which anyone can understand. He's now afraid to go out.

"He now thinks that the same will happen to him again and again, simply because he's autistic."

Det Con Dan Williams, from Kent Police, said it was "a violent and utterly cowardly assault on a vulnerable and defenceless young man".

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