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Luke Hare convicted of attacking man in Hythe

By Marijke Hall

Matt Wilkins had been walking home from a night out when Luke Hare approached him and punched him twice in the face, knocking him to the ground before kicking him.

He then ordered his victim to stay on the floor while he made a phone call before asking a series of strange questions.

Matt Wilkins after being attacked

Matt Wilkins after being attacked

Mr Wilkins, 25, admits he thought he might die that night.

“I was thinking 'should I run?', but I thought he might chase me and do even worse,” he said.

“I could tell I was losing a lot of blood. It was at that point I thought 'he could kill me tonight'.”

Canterbury Crown Court heard that muscular Hare, of Douglas Road in Herne Bay, may have been suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder when he launched his vicious attack in March in Prospect Road, Hythe.

The 33-year-old pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm and was given an 18-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and has been placed under a house curfew between 9pm and 6am for three months.

He must also do 200 hours of community service.

But Mr Wilkins says 6ft Hare has got away lightly and that PTSD is no excuse.

Matt Wilkins was punched in the face and knocked to the ground before being kicked

Matt Wilkins was punched in the face and knocked to the ground before being kicked

“He was talking about his missing daughter and asking me what I had done with her and where she was.

“I said ‘what are you on about?’ and that’s when the two punches came.”

Mr Wilkins, who lives in St Mary’s Bay, says when he fell to the floor he was kicked in the face, leaving him with a broken nose.

But it was Hare’s strange behaviour which Mr Wilkins says was most frightening.

“He told me to stay on the floor while he phoned his brother,” he said.

“Once he’d finished his phone call he said ‘get up’ and I went and sat on a wall.

“He didn’t run off, that’s what really muddled my head.

“He sat there having a conversation with me and asking me questions.”

Matt Wilkins was the victim of an unprovoked attack

Matt Wilkins was the victim of an unprovoked attack

When Mr Wilkins managed to get away, kind bar staff at the Prince of Wales pub, who had just shut up for the night, took him in until police arrived.

“The only reason I was in Hythe is because I had missed my last bus after me and a friend stopped a homeless man getting attacked,” he said.

Mr Wilkins has had surgery to fix his nose but says it is the psychological effects that stay with him.

“I’m scared to go out at night and I take an alarm everywhere with me,” he said.

“If I’m walking and someone is behind me I get jumpy. I feel like I have to look over my shoulder.”

He added: “I don’t think PTSD is any excuse. I’m suffering from shock now. He shouldn’t have got a suspended sentence - he should be inside.”

Speaking at court, recorder James Osborne told Hare: “You weren’t drunk when you approached Mr Wilkins but something unusual was going on in your mind, probably due to your post-traumatic stress disorder from being in the forces.

“I accept you have expressed genuine remorse.”

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