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 Three jailed for ‘sustained and repeated’ attack


​THREE men have been sentenced to more than six years in prison following an assault which left a man with a ruptured spleen.

John Freeman, 35, set up a fake drug deal with the help of his co-accused, Ellis Dobbing, 25, and Andrew Blake, 41, in which they lured the victim to a house in West Rainton before stealing half a kilogram of cocaine worth up to £22,000 from him.

During the deal, the victim was given a holdall in return for the cocaine but when he opened it, instead of cash, it contained cut-up pieces of newspaper tied with elastic bands, to resemble banknotes. At this point the dealer realised he'd been 'taxed' - his drugs taken but not paid for.

Freeman and Dobbing then began beating the man in a “sustained and repeated” attack.

Freeman warned the rival to stay off his turf, telling him: "I am John Freeman. You have been selling drugs in my area. Do not come into Durham or Hetton selling drugs again."

The victim did not seek immediate medical attention following the attack but was found collapsed two days later. He was rushed to hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for a ruptured spleen.

All three men each admitted unlawful wounding and appeared at Teesside Crown Court for sentencing on Friday (January 25).

Freeman, of Yarm Road, Darlington, was jailed for three years with a reduction of 170 days due to time he had spent on curfew, and Dobbing, of Ashdale Road, Sunderland, was jailed for 35 months with a reduction of 23 days.

Blake, of Regent Court, South Hetton, is already serving a 14-year prison sentence for his role in a major drugs conspiracy. He was jailed for one year to run concurrent to his existing sentence. He was not directly involved in the violence but set up the deal and lured the victim in.

A Durham Constabulary spokesman said: “This was a violent attack which left the victim with life-changing injuries.

“We are pleased with the sentence which is the result of a long-running investigation by our officers.”