13 January 2009
A grammar school pupil was left in a coma after being mugged by two teenagers “obsessed by cannabis” who wanted money to fund their drug habit, a court heard.
Sam Eastwell was so badly injured after being set about with a pickaxe handle and a plank of wood that his heart stopped on the way to hospital and doctors feared he would die the same night.
He is still recovering from the attack last August following a series of life-saving brain operations and now hopes to become a policeman.
Canterbury Crown Court in Kent heard that Aidan Shepherd and Grant Vanscolina, both aged 17, spent a week plotting to carry out a robbery to raise money for cannabis, then spent an hour looking for a suitable victim in Ramsgate before battering Mr Eastwell as he sat on a park bench listening to his iPod.
Sentencing both youths to an indeterminate prison sentence, of which they must serve at least four years before being considered for parole, Judge Adele Williams said they were “living a selfish and unfocused life in which you were obsessed by the use of cannabis”.
She said: “This was a cruel and cowardly attack on a young man who had done nothing wrong. You showed scarce regard for human life.
“Your initial motivation was robbery to get money to buy cannabis. In my judgement you got caught up in a frenzy of violence.”
Vanscolina, who had been expelled from school for selling drugs, and Shepherd, who had a previous conviction for attacking another schoolboy on a train, both admitted wounding with intent and robbery at an earlier hearing.
Vanscolina, a member of a gang calling itself Damage, has a page on the social networking website Bebo on which he boasts of his love of attacking people with sledgehammer and includes pictures of Shepherd puffing on a large cannabis joint.
Sam Eastwell, who was sitting an A-level exam at Clarendon House Grammar School as the court hearing took place, said: “I should have died really. I feel that I am a miracle – I am very lucky.
“I just want to put it all behind me, and hope we can all move on with our lives. I’m in no way completely recovered now. I’m just taking each day as it comes, doing gentle exercise, walking to school for lessons and walking back.”