Man who attacked head chef with cricket bat is jailed for nine years
- Credit: Suffolk police
A father-of-four who left a head chef with a fractured skull after beating him with a cricket bat in "a truly shocking" attack at a Suffolk hotel has been jailed.
Paul Falco, 39, denied wounding Michael Johnson with intent at the Worlington Hotel, near Mildenhall, on April 17 this year, but today a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict.
During the three-day trial, the jury at Ipswich Crown Court heard how Mr Johnson, who lived in an attic bedroom at the hotel, was found by a night-porter lying on his bed in "a pretty bad way".
The door to his bedroom had been forced open and there was blood on the walls, floor and mattress, the court heard.
Mr Johnson was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital, where he was found to have a fractured skull, air and blood in his brain, fractures to his cheekbone and round his eyes, a fractured wrist and extensive bruising.
The court heard that several weeks before the attack Mr Johnson found Falco, whose wife was manager of the hotel, in the kitchen taking something out of the freezer.
Falco claimed he had been given permission to take meat from the freezer by the owner of the hotel, and this had been communicated through his wife.
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But giving evidence during the trial, hotel owner Kadambari Suri told the jury that she had not given any permission for Falco to take the meat, and it was agreed that the value of the food taken would be paid back.
This incident appeared to lead to an "ongoing argument" between the pair and the court heard abusive and insulting voicemail messages Mr Johnson left Falco.
Falco also called Mr Johnson 25 times between March 27 and April 10.
At just before 3am on April 17, Falco was seen on CCTV going to the hotel with two other unknown men.
One of the men was seen handing Falco a cricket bat and the trio were seen on CCTV going up the stairs at the hotel before running back down a minute later.
During his evidence, Falco told the jury he did not know the two other men and had met them outside the hotel.
Falco also claimed Mr Johnson had threatened him with a knife after he invited him into his bedroom on the night in question.
But the jury of seven women and five men rejected Falco's account and took just one hour and 20 minutes to find him guilty.
Recorder William Joseph Hansen said Falco's claim that he did not know the other two men and met them outside the hotel was "one of many lies" he told the jury.
Sentencing Falco on Friday after the guilty verdict, Recorder Hansen said: "It was a vicious attack. It is hard to imagine how terrifying this must have been for the victim."
Recorder Hansen said he accepted there were "abusive and insulting messages left by Mr Johnson" but added: "Nothing he said or did can begin to justify what you did.
"The level of violence in this attack was truly shocking. It was sustained and brutal."
Recorder Hansen sentenced Falco, of Bridge End Road, Red Lodge, to nine years in prison, and he must serve two thirds of that sentence before he is released on licence.