A THUG has been locked up for a vicious homophobic street attack on two "defenceless" females who had their heads stamped on.
Laura Price and Yazmin Wood were holding hands at a late night garage when they were approached by Ross Paterson and two other men just after midnight in Penrith, Cumbria, on August 18 last year.
Carlisle Crown Court heard the pair were subjected to "crude" and "disgusting" taunts.
The couple shrugged off the insults and walked away. As the abuse continued, Miss Price challenged the men but was dragged down an alley and subjected to a sickening attack during which her head was "kicked and stamped on repeatedly".
Miss Wood was also knocked to floor and had her face stamped on, prompting Miss Price to desperately try and help her.
"She crawled on top of her partner," prosecutor Nicholas Flanagan told the court.
"She, therefore, started taking some of the blows, kicks and punches."
Miss Wood was able to get away and hide, but Miss Price was repeatedly attacked again. "She recalled her head striking the wall. Blood was pouring all over her," said Mr Flanagan.
When the attack ended, the couple walked to a nearby hospital to seek treatment for serious, multiple injuries.
Paterson was detained by police and later admitted assaulting the two women, causing them actual bodily harm. Two men facing the same charges were acquitted after a trial at the crown court.
During that hearing, Miss Price gave evidence from the witness box with half her head shaved. She confirmed that was a legacy of the incident and not a "style".
"I have always had my hair long, for 30 years. It is my crowning glory," she said. "Now it doesn't grow back properly."
Miss Wood told jurors she watched in horror as her girlfriend's head was kicked "like a football".
"I couldn't believe someone would actually do that to another human being," said Miss Wood. "I was scared she was going to die."
Lawyer John Smith gave mitigation during today's hearing for Paterson. He had been given cocaine that night and "obviously taken on board a great deal of alcohol".
"His memory of this incident is not complete," said Mr Smith. "He finds his behaviour to be incomprehensible.
"Mr Paterson would like to apologise to the ladies concerned." Mr Smith added: "The biggest mitigation for him, I think, must be his early guilty plea.
"He would like to say that his behaviour has changed over the last 14 months. He has consumed much less alcohol and does not consume any drugs."
Paterson, of Unitas Crescent, Carluke, was jailed for 28 months by Judge Peter Davies.
Judge Davies said the victims should be "congratulated" for having tried to walk away from the incident. "They did not rise to the bait that was basely put before them," said the judge.
He told Paterson: "This was an outrageous incident, started by you.
"They were both defenceless, and you attacked them because they were in a same-sex relationship."