One man has been jailed for life and another for 10 years following a vigilante attack which left a sex offender so badly injured he was unrecognisable.
Marcus Hartley, 24, and Richard Lowry, 33, took the law into their own hands when they discovered their friend and neighbour, Anthony Bullough, was a convicted sex offender.
A police officer who knew Mr Bullough said he could not recognise him when he saw him lying unconscious on the ground, following the attack in Chorley on November 4 last year.
The men met at the accommodation they shared for ex-offenders in Gordon Street, Chorley, and became friends.
But when Hartley and Lowry discovered Mr Bullough’s convictions were for possession of indecent images of children their attitudes towards him changed, Preston Crown Court heard.
They began to harass him, playing loud music and shouting insults at him through the door of his ground floor flat.
On November 3 last year, Hartley and Lowry were drinking and playing loud music in the flats upstairs from Mr Bullough.
Mr Bullough, who had previously spoken to the housing association about threats from his neighbours, became so concerned by their behaviour he climbed out of the window and fled the flat.
But Hartley and Lowry followed him and attacked him on wasteland close by. Hartley punched him to the ground and the to men set about punching and kicking him to the head and face in a brutal and savage attack.
At around 1.50am, two workmen discovered Mr Bullough lying unresponsive on the ground, and called emergency services.
Mr Bullough was taken to hospital in a coma and underwent CT scans which showed bleeding to his brain and fractures to his jaw, eye socket and cheekbones.
He had to undergo surgery and was fed through a tube.
As Mr Bullough lay in hospital in a coma, Lowry contacted his ex partner asking her to wash a bag of clothing, at around 2.30am.
The bag contained bloodied footwear and jeans belonging to both defendants.
Six months after the attack, Mr Bullough remains in hospital and needs assistance with walking and daily care.
He started eating solid food last month but is not expected to be able to leave hospital until June, at the earliest.
Hartley and Lowry pleaded guilty to wounding with intent and appeared at Preston Crown Court to be sentenced.
The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, said: “It was clearly a brutal, nasty and sustained assault and such was the nature of it that when he was observed lying unconscious in the street his injuries were so bad he could not be recognised.
“There was an element of premeditation, and certainly a sense of revenge because you understood him to be a convicted sex offender.
“You were taking the law into your own hands and behaving as a vigilante.”
Judge Brown said Hartley was a dangerous offender who had previously served a prison sentence for an attack on his own father, who had recently been discharged from hospital. Lowry had convictions for domestic violence and arson, the court heard.
Judge Brown jailed Hartley for life with a specified term of five and a half years.
Lowry was jailed for 10 years.
Mr Bullough had been given a community order in March 2014 for possession of indecent images
Det Sgt Ian Derbyshire, of Skelmersdale CID, said: “This was a vicious, nasty and brutal assault.
“Hartley and Lowry, along with a third man, targeted the victim leaving him with significant injuries.
“The pair are clearly dangerous individuals who showed a blatant disregard for their actions.
“The victim has remained in hospital since the assault and requires on-going medical care.
“We welcome these sentences and hope they serve as a warning to others.”