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Man who punched two Colchester bus drivers given suspended prison sentence

PUBLISHED: 14:12 05 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:12 05 September 2017

A bus in Colchester. Archive picture. Picture: SU ANDERSON/ARCHANT ARCHIVE

A bus in Colchester. Archive picture. Picture: SU ANDERSON/ARCHANT ARCHIVE

A man has avoided prison after he punched two Colchester bus drivers when he was ordered off a service because he was drunk.

Richard Helliwell, 45, of Tynedale Court, Colchester, was drinking on the First East service in the town when he started shouting and swearing at passengers.

Bus driver Paul Curtis told him to leave. But after he got off the bus he assaulted two other bus drivers.

Today, Helliwell admitted at Colchester Magistrates’ Court two counts of common assault and one of threatening behaviour with intent to cause fear.

Lesla Small, prosecuting, said: “It happened about 6.40pm on July 3 when the defendant was asked to stop consuming alcohol.

“He became disgruntled at this and became argumentative, making threats and saying the driver was a ‘dead man’.

“He then made threats to two further bus drivers before walking off. However, for whatever reason, he came back.

“Wayne Bell was grabbed, punched and kicked by the defendant and when Michael Cooper tried to intervene he was punched on the nose.”

The court heard the incident was reported to Essex Police and Helliwell was arrested on July 30.

Andrew Young, mitigating, said: “He is very ashamed to appear before the court on this occasion.

“He lives on his own and has a psychotic condition, which he takes three sets of medication for.

“They keep him on the straight and narrow. The problem in his case is he has a mother and step-father who he is an unofficial carer for. His mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and his step-father has cancer.

“On this occasion he had been and seen his mother and in his words to me ‘he thought she had gone’. It sunk in his mother is very ill.

“He became very upset, took all his tablets and said he couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to go home.”

Chairman of the bench Helen Parr jailed Helliwell for eight weeks for each assault and six weeks for the threatening behaviour, to run concurrently, which she suspended for 12 months.

She said: “These people were in their work and have the right to think they will be treated correctly. You went back to assault these two people, it was persistent.

“However, you take care of your parents and there would be an enormous impact on them if you were sent into custody.”

Helliwell was ordered to carry out 15 days of rehabilitation, and pay compensation of £100 each to the two assault victims and £50 to the original bus driver Mr Curtis.

No costs or victim surcharge were imposed.

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