Man attacked disabled woman while she was playing fruit machine

Court news.
Court news.

A 49-year-old man with ‘mental health issues’ attacked a disabled woman playing a fruit machine in an amusement arcade because he was obsessed with using it himself, a court has heard.

Paul Michael Cook of Philip Grove, admitted assaulting Ann Gardiner by beating when he appeared at Skegness Magistrates Court.

Paul Wood, prosecuting, said that on August 22, 62 year old Ms Gardiner, who was said to be disabled, was playing a fruit machine in Harris Amusements in Lumley Road, when Cook, who did not know her, came up to her and said: “I’m playing on that machine. It’s got my money,” and demanded she move.

When she refused he grabbed her hair and punched her several times in the face before other patrons of the arcade pulled him off and pinned him to the floor.

Mr Wood said staff let Cook go free but a witness followed him home and police later arrested him.

He said Cook told officers he had credit on that particular machine and had ‘lost it’ and ‘hit out’.

Mitigating, Beris Brickles said there was no history of violence in Cook’s record.

He said Cook lived in warden controlled accommodation and had had ‘mental health issues’ for a number of years.

He said that although he had not been diagnosed, Cook had autistic tendencies which led him to be alone and when he was involved in something, to stay focused on it.

Mr Brickles said Cook had a £10 credit on the machine and had left it to go to the toilet but when he came back had found Ms Gardiner on the machine and refusing to leave it.

He said Cook thought she was spending money he had built up and had behaved irrationally but had been ‘very apologetic’ after the incident.

The magistrates imposed an 18 month conditional discharge but ordered Cook to pay £150 compensation to Ms Gardiner, as well as costs and charges totalling £105.