Students avoid prison after drunken attack on pensioner


Left: Patrick James, right: Matthew Knight

TWO Aberystwyth University students who attacked a 67-year old man after entering his home at 2am have escaped prison after a judge said they “had their lives ahead of them”.

Patrick Henry Arthur James, who lives in Pumlumon, and Matthew Huw Knight, of Rosser D, were both convicted of assault after they “found themselves inside” the home of John Bowen following a drunken night out on January 11th.

Knight and James were removed from the house by Bowen, but then pushed him to the ground and kicked him, before leaving towards the Angel pub, where they were refused entry.

Neither of the men could explain why they had been in the house, but James said he had drunk a bottle of wine in 9 seconds through a straw before going out that night. Both admitted to being “extremely drunk”.

Sitting in Swansea Crown Court, judge Mr Recorder Griffiths said both students had come from an “excellent background” and “had their lives ahead of them”. He sentenced the pair to a 12 month community order to include 150 hours of unpaid community service, and imposed a curfew that prevents them leaving their residences between 7pm and 7am on Fridays and Saturdays, until the end of May

He also ordered them to pay Bowen £250 compensation each, in addition to a £60 victim surcharge, saying they should get summer jobs to pay the amounts.

In statements, James said he would like to “apologise publicly to Mr Bowen for my actions and for any stress it has caused either him or his family”, and Knight said “I would just like to say how sorry I am to Mr Bowen and I also would like to apologise to the University for any bad associations I have brought.”

Aberystwyth University refused to comment on individual students, saying “where a student is alleged to have committed a criminal offence, the University retains absolute discretion to decide whether to invoke the Disciplinary Procedure, to suspend its investigations until the matter has been dealt with by the courts, or to leave the matter in the hands of the police.”

Representing Knight, Geraint Walters (who had been president of Aberystwyth University Law Society between 1979 and 1980) said if imprisoned the pair would not be allowed to return to University. It is unclear what disciplinary action, if any, has been taken against Knight or James. However, it is understood that both had been suspended from the University whilst awaiting trial, but have now been allowed to return to continue their studies and continue to live in University accommodation.