Published: 14:00, 16 May 2016
A thug who fractured another man’s cheekbone in an unprovoked attack has walked free after a judge heard he had turned to religion.
Drunk Alfie McMillan was caught on CCTV cameras felling Gareth Jones with a single blow in Rochester High Street in the early hours.
The 26-year-old scaffolder and qualified personal trainer was seen giving a friend a triumphant “high five” before getting into a car and being driven off.
Prosecutor Andrew Forsyth said the victim had been standing by the open door of a BMW car at 3am on June 20 2014. There was some conversation before McMillan struck out with his left fist.
The car in which he was driven away was traced through CCTV and he was arrested.
Mr Forsyth said Mr Jones was treated at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead but chose not to have an operation for his injury. He declined to make a statement.
He did, however, seek £758 compensation for loss of two weeks’ earnings.
Ali Dewji, defending, told Maidstone Crown Court McMillan had since been baptised and “taken up church-going”.
“He is actually teetotal now,” he said. “He is drug free. Alcohol is at the core of his troubles.
He goes to services on Sundays and attends classes on Wednesdays.
“There is nothing superficial or cynical about his attempts to take control of his life. There is a letter from the minister at his church.”
Mr Dewji added: “It was a mindless act of violence. He said he felt embarrassed about what happened and was very sorry.”
McMillan, of St Mary’s Church Street, Rotherhithe, east London, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Recorder Matthew Nicklin QC said he had witnessed “an example of mindless, thuggish violence” in the CCTV footage, adding: “It cries out for punishment.”
A pre-sentence report recommended a community order with supervision.
“My difficulty is I am not prepared to pass a sentence which doesn’t contain a significant punishment element,” said the judge. "Supervision seems to be wholly inappropriate.”
As well as making a community order for a year he ordered McMillan to complete 180 hours unpaid work and imposed a curfew from 9pm to 5pm for four months.
He allowed a year for £750 compensation to be paid to the victim.
“It was an unprovoked, gratuitous, thuggish act of violence that could so easily have ended in more serious injuries" - Recorder Matthew Nicklin QC
Recorder Nicklin said: “It was an unprovoked, gratuitous, thuggish act of violence that could so easily have ended in more serious injuries.
“Punches like that can lead to a victim striking his head - and they die. This is an indication of the seriousness in which courts regard such offences.”
But he added: “There is a substantial amount of personal mitigation. He has had a difficult childhood. His father has been ill. He is the primary carer.
“It is also plain to me that whatever happened in 2014 it appears he has substantially made efforts to address whatever it was that was leading him to act in a violent and threatening way.”
A minister who had known him for 10 years stated he had seen McMillan take control of his life and added he was serious about leading a Christian life.
“That is substantial mitigation and gives the court some comfort there is unlikely to be a repetition of this unacceptable violence,” said the judge.
“I am operating on the basis he will make good on the promise he is making.”