Thug jailed for savage assault

Benjamin Hammond
Benjamin Hammond
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A VICIOUS thug who once bit off a friend’s ear and attacked a police inspector in the street has been jailed for attempting to murder a drinking companion after bingeing on 30 bottles of beer.

Benjamin Hammond, 23, launched a violent attack on Craig Whyte after he allegedly called his father an insulting name and stole some of his drink. The thug punched, kicked and headbutted Mr Whyte, 22, before leaving him for dead in a bin store in Leith.

Hammond was yesterday jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh for eight years, plus he must undergo supervision for a further three.

The judge dubbed him “violent in the extreme” and highlighted that Hammond posed “an imminent and serious risk of harm to the public”.

It is one in a long line of incidents that have seen Hammond hauled before the courts.

In May last year he viciously attacked an off-duty police inspector who suffered a fractured skull and internal bleeding. The officer has since made a full recovery.

Two years earlier, Hammond admitted mutilating a friend for life after biting off the ear of 17-year-old Brian McLintock after butting into an argument between Mr McLintock and his girlfriend.

Doctors were only able to save half of the severed ear, and Hammond was sentenced to 17 months in a Young Offenders Institution.

He received a further three months in prison after striking a police officer in the face with a dog chain and then trying to bite police in hospital while he was under arrest.

In the latest incident, on May 30, Hammond had been drinking heavily in his flat, at Cables Wynd House, in Leith, with Mr Whyte and friends. Hammond claimed Mr Whyte insulted his father, leading him to punch him to the ground and drag him from the property.

Lord Woolman said: “Although it started in a top-floor flat you dragged him along the corridor to a lift where you headbutted him, then took him to the street and resumed punching and kicking him. You left him literally for dead.”

He added: “The medical team expected him to die. You are lucky not to be facing a charge of murder.”

The judge said he took into account that Hammond was a young man and added: “I take into account the victim may have made a remark that provoked you.”

Lord Woolman said he would have jailed Hammond for ten years but for his guilty plea.

After hauling Mr Whyte from the flat, Hammond threw him to the ground in a bin store and repeatedly punched and kicked the victim until he became unconscious.

Mr Whyte was later found in the bin store in a pool of blood. He was taken to hospital with a “very serious brain injury”, bruising, swelling and a fractured nose. A CT scan revealed bleeding within the brain and he was found to have suffered an injury similar to those seen in “shaken baby syndrome”.

Mr Whyte spent six weeks in intensive care and high dependency wards and his condition gradually improved.

The advocate depute said: “The injuries sustained by the victim can only be described as catastrophic and he is very lucky to be alive.”