Gateshead laughing savage left attack victim choking on blood and fearing death

Tony Atkinson, jailed  for GBH with intent and witness intimidation
-Credit: (Image: Northumbria Police)

The screams of a man who thought he was about to die as he choked on his own blood during a savage attack by a laughing brute, left a child playing nearby terrified.

Brutal Tony Atkinson, once jailed for his part in a punishment shooting gang, left his victim with multiple facial fractures, a gaping wound to his cheek and choking on his own blood during a sustained attack in Gateshead. The thug then set about intimidating two women who had given witness statements, assaulting one of them and making threats and claiming he "knew the Sayers" in a bid to get them to back out of helping the prosecution.

Now the 53-year-old, of Bensham Court, Gateshead, has been branded a dangerous offender and jailed for more than eight years at Newcastle Crown Court.

It was on March 29 2022 that the victim was walking home from the Post Office. He said he had been assaulted by Atkinson previously but he was invited to a nearby flat of a mutual friend and assured that "bygones were bygones".

Once inside the flat, an argument blew up which led to a fight. Danielle Gilmour, prosecuting, said Atkinson then launched a "brutal and sustained" attack during which he was punched to the face several times and dragged on the floor.

Miss Gilmour said: "The victim screamed for help. It was so loud people outside the flats and in their own flats nearby could hear. One woman's son came in from playing because he had been petrified from the scream."

During the attack, the victim began to choke on his own blood. Miss Gilmour said: "He described that he began to stop resisting. He was resigned to his fear he would die." Atkinson continued to attack the victim and Miss Gilmour said he was "laughing as he did so".

When the attack ended, the victim managed to stumble outside and collapsed on the pavement and an ambulance was called to take him to hospital. Miss Gilmour said: "The defendant was leaning out of the flat shouting down that if anyone else came up they would get the same treatment."

The victim was found to have fractures to his eye socket, nose and cheek, had multiple areas of swelling, open wounds to his cheek, bruising to his face and tenderness to his shoulder. Atkinson pleaded guilty to GBH with intent on the basis he did not stamp or bite the victim as had originally been alleged and that the victim had suffered some of his injuries hitting his head on a TV stand during the attack.

The court heard the victim has been left with PTSD, has scars to his face and head and suffers night terrors and anxiety and depression.

Judge Tim Gittins said: "You engaged in what can only be described as a persistent, prolonged assault, including numerous blows while he was defenceless on the floor. He was left bloodied, struggling to breathe because of the blood he was swallowing and had sustained a number of facial fractures to his nose, cheek and eye socket and cuts, bruises and swelling to his face, arms and body which indicate the number of blows that must have been occasioned to him."

Atkinson, who was seen taking items to a wooded area behind the flats and setting fire to them, was arrested then released on bail with conditions not to contact prosecution witnesses. However he then set about intimidating two women who had given statements to police about what they had seen.

He initially approached one of them in a fish and chip shop, saying he had seen her statement and opening his wallet and offering £100. She said she didn't want his money and he said: "So can I rip your statement up then?"

The woman reported what had happened and about ten days later a taxi pulled up as she was leaving home and Atkinson was there and was heard to say "that's one of them there". He then walked towards her and threatened her.

Miss Gilmour said: "He said he had seen the witness statements and they were in for it. He said he knew the Sayers and she was getting her caravan blown up and both their houses were getting done."

He dragged her coat sleeve and pulled her back towards him then blocked her path and was leaning from side to side in front of her face. The woman swore at him and Atkinson shouted abuse at her.

A short time later he want to the back door of the second witness, said he was "looking at seven years" and made threats towards her, including that her mother's car was "going up".

The court heard Atkinson was jailed for ten years in 2004 for wounding with intent after a man was shot during a punishment attack in a drugs dispute. He was said to have present with two others but did not do the shooting himself. Since his release from that sentence he has been convicted of assaults and having an offensive weapon.

Atkinson pleaded guilty to GBH with intent, witness intimidation common assault of the woman he tussled with. Judge Gittins said he was a dangerous offender and jailed him for eight years and two months, with an extended licence period of a further three years. He was also given an indefinite restraining order banning him from approaching the victims.

Rachel Hedworth, defending, said Atkinson denied kicking, stamping, biting or luring the victim into the flat. She said it was a chance encounter, began as a "consensual fight" and at some point the victim had grabbed Atkinson's testicles.

She added: "He is extremely sorry, it's genuine remorse. He is described as a model prisoner."