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Jailed drug addict has four years to do some thinking, says attack victim

By Tom Wilkinson and Tom White

Published 03/04/2015

Alan Barnes
Alan Barnes

A drug addict whose sickening attack on a vulnerable pensioner caused outrage around the world should use his four-year jail sentence to "do some thinking", his 4ft 6in victim has said.

Well-wishers who were moved by the plight of 67-year-old Alan Barnes raised £330,000 for him within days of Richard Gatiss's assault. The 25-year-old pushed Mr Barnes over as he put out his bins, breaking his collar bone.

Gatiss was desperate for money to buy so-called legal highs when he tried to mug Mr Barnes.

In a letter read out in court, his father Karl said Gatiss had been brought up to "help not to hurt people", had been a kind-hearted boy who loved the outdoors. But when he started to use drugs, "the likeable lad we had known slowly drifted away from us".

Gatiss, of Split Crow Road, Gateshead, did not visibly react when he was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court, having previously admitted assault with intent to rob.

Mr Barnes thought it was the right sentence, adding: "I hope while he's in prison he'll do some thinking and when he comes out he'll do something useful. Maybe he might decide to help people which I think would be a good idea for him. It's sad that he was brought to the stage of doing something like this, not necessarily just me it could have been anybody and they might not have got over the incident."

Mr Barnes's collar bone has now mended and he is looking to buy a house in Low Fell, Gateshead, where he has lived all his life.

Nick Dry, prosecuting, told the court the new house was "something made possible by the overwhelming support and generosity of people in the local area and indeed around the world".

Mr Dry added: "Although he is still wary of going out, he is positive about the future and over the worst of the injury."

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