Violent alcoholic given 'stark choice' by judge

GV - Ipswich Crown Court

Daniel Leat appeared for sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court

An alcoholic who twice assaulted and stole from a vulnerable man has been given a chance to stay out of trouble and avoid an early grave.

Daniel Leat was handed a suspended 21-month jail sentence for assault, ABH and theft at Ipswich Crown Court on Friday morning.

The 38-year-old, of Maldon Court, Great Cornard, was ordered to undergo a two-year alcohol treatment programme by Judge Martyn Levett, who told him: "If you don't give it up, you are either going to end up in prison or die. That's a stark choice."

Leat, who told the court he wanted to tackle his long-term issues with alcohol and give up drink entirely, had earlier pleaded guilty to the three offences at a hearing on February 26, but denied a further charge of burglary, which prosecutors allowed to lie on file.

Sentencing was adjourned until Friday to allow the probation service to assess Leat's suitability for substance misuse treatment.

The court heard how Leat went to the Sudbury home of Mark Kerry on August 1 last year and repeatedly demanded money, before throwing around the contents of a bedside cabinet and punching Mr Kerry three times to the left cheek.

Leat also admitted stealing a bottle of gin six days later from the same address, where he returned at about 10pm on September 2, angrily shouting and throwing items around before punching Mr Kerry 20 to 30 times in the face, causing cuts and bruises.

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The court heard that Leat had nine convictions for 16 offences, mainly linked to substance misuse, and including battery in 2011.

Judge Levett said he was giving Leat a chance by imposing a 21-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, with a requirement to attend an alcohol treatment programme.

He told Leat: "What I'm going to do in this case is give you a chance."

Judge Levett also imposed a five-year restraining order and reminded Leat that breaching the conditions of his suspended sentence could result in activation of the 21-month prison term.