Outrage as lout who flouts sentence still avoids prison

Shaun Burns

Shaun Burns

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A taxi driver has hit out at a thug who used a legal loophole to avoid jail after subjecting him to a violent assault.

Shaun Burns, 19, of Mayfield Avenue, Ingol, was found guilty of racially aggravated assault and criminal damage to the taxi during the period of a previous three months sentence, suspended for a year, imposed in May 2011 for affray.

But a shameful legal loophole has seen him walk out of court a free man,.

His suspended jail term had originally been imposed by Crown court, meaning magistrates, who found him guilty of the attack in March, had to commit his sentencing to the crown court.

Burns then appealed the verdict, leading to a further delay in sentence. He then abandoned the appeal.

By the day of Burn’s sentencing on Thursday - four months after his case was committed - the period of his suspended sentence had expired and Judge Ian Leeming QC, sitting at Preston’s Sessions House, ruled it would be ‘unjust’ to activate the order.

Instead Burns walked out of court with another suspended term, this time for 16 weeks suspended for a year, with 100 hours unpaid work, £350 costs and £520 compensation.

Earlier this year father–of-five Muhammed Hussain, from Holme Slack, Preston, told how he feared for his life after Burns, his partner Bryanne-Serrita Langham, 22, and friend Callum Tennant, 20, launched a racist attack on him before threatening to “take him down a side street and kill him”.

During the terrifying incident last December his attackers even threatened to cut off the Miller’s taxi driver’s beard.

Today a Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: “Shaun Burns was found guilty after trial on March 22, 2012 at Preston Magistrates Court of racially aggravated common assault and criminal damage.

“The magistrates decided they had insufficient sentencing powers for these particular offences and committed the case to Preston Crown Court for sentence. The CPS was advised that Mr Burns was to exercise his right to appeal this conviction and therefore the Crown Court took the case out of the listing pending the outcome of the appeal.

“The appeal was subsequently abandoned by the defence and the case was relisted for sentence at Preston Crown Court on July 19.”

Tennant, of Marshall Grove, Ingol, was found guilty of racially aggravated assault and criminal damage to the taxi, which was kicked and dented when Mr Hussain pulled over to let them out at Lane Ends pub in Ashton.

He was given a community order, five month curfew and 200 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £130 compensation and £50 costs in March.

Langham, 22, of Sylvancroft, Ingol, pleaded guilty to criminal damage to a taxi and making off without paying the £4.50 fare and was ordered to pay £84.50 compensation, a £100 fine, a £15 victim surcharge and £40 costs.

Mr Hussain, 36, had picked up the group from Marshall Grove on December 28, last year.