Lifestyle manager who broke woman’s leg in bizarre Shepherd’s Bush pub attack spared jail

James Stephenson broke a woman’s leg in a random pub attack in Shepherd’s Bush (Met Police)
James Stephenson broke a woman’s leg in a random pub attack in Shepherd’s Bush (Met Police)

A luxury lifestyle manager who broke a woman’s leg in a bizarre attack outside a west London pub must pay the victim £21,000 in compensation as he was handed a suspended prison sentence.

James Stephenson, 37, stormed outside and shoved journalist May Woods to the ground as she was chatting and sharing a cigarette with his girlfriend.

He was heard to shout “what the f***are you doing” moments before the attack, which left Ms Woods on the ground in agony with her leg broken in two places.

The incident outside the Defector’s Weld pub in Shepherd’s Bush was caught on CCTV, showing Stephenson pushing Ms Woods, knocking over his own girlfriend Jo Hunt, and crashing to the ground himself.

In the chaotic aftermath, Stephenson, who had been drinking wine that evening, was punched by Ms Wood’s boyfriend Liam before he left the scene in an Uber.

 (Google StreetView)
(Google StreetView)

At Southwark crown court on Friday, Ms Woods revealed in a victim impact statement how she has been left suffering from anxiety, nightmares, and ongoing pain, and now relies heavily on her partner in daily life.

She said the aftermath of the incident harmed her professional and social life, and said she continues to suffer “shooting pains up my leg (and) constant pins and needles”.

“It feels like my leg is on fire all the time”, she said.

“I feel it has turned me into a different person, as well as leaving me with potentially life-changing injuries.

“A year on, I can’t bend my knee, I walk with a limp, and I can’t jog.”

Sentencing Stephenson to nine months in prison, suspended for a year, Recorder Jo Matson said the attack happened “without warning or provocation”

“There’s clearly been a grave injury and there’s a high likelihood of some permanence to some of those injuries”, she said.

But the judge added: “This was clearly an impulsive and short-lived assault which was one push and no more than that.

“I accept that this was totally out of character for you.”

The judge said Stephenson’s role as a carer for his disabled mother was a driving factor for suspending the sentence rather than sending him to prison. She ordered him to carry out 200 hours of community service within the next year.

Turning to compensation, the judge said she was “incredibly suspicious” of Stephenson’s decision to sell his car for £21,000 two days ago and hand the money to his partner.

She ordered him to retrieve the money to be given to Ms Woods as compensation.

Stephenson runs VIP lifestyle management firm Tatlocks, offering invitation-only membership to a “truly discreet service for discerning individuals all over the world”.

He was supported in court at the sentencing hearing by his partner, sister, and disabled mother.

Sallie Bennett-Jenkins KC, mitigating for Stephenson, revealed his partner is now 21-weeks pregnant with their first child.

She said the attack was an “isolated incident” which lasted just seconds, and Stephenson “hugely regrets” the injury he caused.

“He is a mild-mannered, hard-working, dedicated son and partner”, said Ms Bennett-Jenkins. “He has expressed remorse at all stages.”

The incident happened on December 5, 2021, when Stephenson and Ms Hunt had been celebrating a friend’s birthday at the pub while Ms Woods, a magazine editor, had been watching her boyfriend’s DJ set.

She went outside for a cigarette at around 2am and got talking to Ms Hunt, who was swaying and visibly drunk.

“I was slammed from the back, it was a huge surprise”, describing the moment she was attacked by Stephenson as he ran out of the pub towards them.

“From nowhere I remember someone coming behind me, and I remember feeling a whoosh, a good push – mad hard.”

She recalled screaming at Stephenson “what have you done? Why have you done this?” as her leg was paralysed in pain.

The court heard how Ms Woods spent more than two hours laying on the ground covered in coats for warmth as she waited for an ambulance which never arrived.

After eventually realising paramedics were not coming, she had to take an Uber to hospital and needed surgery to repair the fractures to her tibia and fibula.

While in hospital, Ms Woods made public appeals for help catching the attacker, and complained that police had been slow to collect evidence including the crucial CCTV.

“Nothing has been done”, she said on Twitter. “Is this a normal timeline? Am I expecting too much - that male violence against a woman is actually investigated?”

A CCTV image of Stephenson was released by the Met Police, and he was arrested ten days later.

He claimed the push was accidental, when his foot slipped on rain water and buckled underneath him, causing him to crash out of the pub and put his arms out to protect himself.

But a jury rejected his defence, finding him guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Stephenson, who lives in South Kensington, told the court he has handed over control of his company and sold shares to pay for £67,000 in private legal fees.

He was ordered to pay £21,000 in compensation within the next three months.