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‘Justice system is a joke’ Teenage girls walk free after attack on young mum

Liverpool: Horrific footage shows woman being attacked

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Ellie Knowles, then 19, smashed the victim’s phone, demanded money and stamped on her head at the party while Rachel Chalkley, then 17, egged her on and filmed the attack. Knowles proceeded to smash a beer bottle over the woman’s head.

You have punched her repeatedly to her ribs and you kicked and at several times stamped on [her] head. At the end of what turned out to be a two minute assault you picked up a beer bottle and struck her to the most vulnerable part of her body, her head

Judge David Potter

The victim is now terrified of taking her son out over fears of being recognised by associates of her attackers.

But both thugs walked free from court on Wednesday, Liverpool Echo reports, after Knowles was handed a nine-month sentence suspended for 18 months, and Chalkley was given a three-month sentence suspended for one year.

Liverpool Crown Court heard everyone at the house party on March 2 this year had been drinking and Knowles had drunk “to a very large extent”.

The judge said Knowles had “demanded” £40 from the woman, which she claimed she was owed.

The desperate victim rang her dad to ask for money which he “refused to pay” before hanging up.

Judge Potter said: “He rang back and whilst on the phone to his daughter you, Knowles, grabbed the phone and shouted down the phone then threw that phone against a wall causing it to smash and rendering it useless.”

The judge said Knowles was “not content” and then launched a “violent” and “sickening” assault.

Judge Potter said: “You have punched her repeatedly to her ribs and you kicked and at several times stamped on [her] head.

“At the end of what turned out to be a two minute assault you picked up a beer bottle and struck her to the most vulnerable part of her body, her head, several times.”

Judge Potter said: “Whilst this was going on you, Rachel Chalkley, were filming this sickening attack on your mobile phone.

“You weren’t just doing that, you were shouting and screaming and egging on Ellie Knowles to assault, assault and further assault.”

The judge said Chalkley was also “demanding” the girl apologised to Knowles.

He said: “What had she got to apologise for? She was being kicked and punched and hit over the head with a bottle.”

Judge Potter said: “To add to her humiliation and degradation she was ordered out of the house.

“As she walked away from that house, injured as a result of that assault, you followed her, continued to film her and shouted appalling abuse at her in the street.”

The footage was later posted online, adding to the woman’s embarrassment.

The judge said it was only “sheer good fortune” that she didn’t suffer more serious injuries.

Judge Potter said: “It was undoubtedly a frightening ordeal for her. She was left terrified by the actions in that house and the additional humiliation of having that attack posted on the internet was very substantial embarrassment.”

Mike Stephenson, prosecuting, summarised a victim personal statement from the woman.

He said: “She said she was terrified by the incident.

“It made her anxious about leaving home, she worries about it occuring again and also worries for her young son.

“She worries about being out with him.”

Mr Stephenson said the video was sent to Knowles, who forwarded it to a third person who posted it online.

He said: “People keep seeing this and approach her to ask what happened.”

The victim felt “humiliated” and suffered bruising and swelling to her eyes.

Knowles has a previous conviction for threatening behaviour from February 2020 for which she received a conditional discharge.

In July last year Chalkley was handed a youth caution for encouraging an offence, which wasn’t outlined in court.

Tom Watson, defending Knowles, said she recognised it as an “appalling piece of behaviour” that she should be “utterly utterly ashamed of”.

He said she had written a letter of apology to the court and her victim, but left it at home.

Mr Watson said: “She is ashamed when she hears and sees that video, she asks not to have to watch it again because she is ashamed.”

He told the court Knowles had “some sort of anger management issues” since she was a child which has “never truly been addressed”.

Mr Watson asked the judge to consider a “more constructive” community sentence, emphasising she had already spent 10 days in HMP Styal on remand.

He said Knowles suffered from a thyroid problem which sees her hospitalised for two weeks at a time.

Mr Watson said Knowles has a “very supportive family” who are “appalled and ashamed” of her behaviour.

Jim Smith, defending Chalkley, said she is “extremely sorry for her actions”.

He explained she had “significant life challenges”, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 16, her grandad recently died and she discovered her dad had another family, with four sisters she hadn’t known about.

Mr Smith said Chalkley was the victim of a “serious assault” herself in 2019 and should’ve understood the impact on her victim.

He said Chalkley had since left Liverpool and moved to supported accommodation in Preston where she helps pick up and deliver food and cooks for the elderly.

Mr Smith said she recognised she “made an extremely serious mistake” but now wanted to become a “productive member of society.

Knowles, from Everton, Liverpool, admitted criminal damage and assault causing actual bodily harm.

Chalkley, of Preston, Lancashire, but originally from Liverpool, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm.

Judge Potter said Knowles played a primary role and Chalkley a lesser role because she didn’t physically attack the woman.

The judge told Chalkley “because of your autism you are yourself capable of easily being exploited and in your case you have moved from Liverpool to get away from those with whom you associated in the past”.

Judge Potter said: “I suspect all those present in court today have been shocked to the core by what they have seen in your video.”

The judge told Knowles: “A custodial sentence is necessary to protect the public from further harm as a result of your outbursts of aggression.”

However, he said: “In your case Ellie Knowles I am satisfied that the two weeks you spent on remand at HMP Styal has led you to understand what lies ahead for you if you continue to behave in the way you did in March.”

The judge added he was satisfied Chalkley had “done a great deal of growing up” in the last two months which has led to a “reduction in the risk of further offending”.

Knowles must complete 25 Rehabilitation Activity Days. She was also given a three-month curfew between 9am and 5pm daily and must pay the victim £90 for the damage to her phone and £280 in compensation.

Chalkley must complete 20 Rehabilitation Activity Requirements and was also ordered to complete a curfew for the same period.

Judge Potter imposed a five-year restraining order to protect the victim.

The judge said: “The two of you can consider yourselves extremely fortunate young women today.”

The sentences provoked outrage on social media with one user commenting: “The justice system is there to protect the guilty, because it’s certainty not protecting the innocent.”

Another claimed the justice system is a ‘joke’ and added: “She wrote an apology letter and left it at home? Joke! ‘Her dad has a second family’ so she had to destroy someone else’s? Joke!”

Another added: “This is why we have so many problems today.

“No one takes responsibility for their actions and there is no punishment worthy of the crime.

“I know let’s assault someone because it’s not my fault, I was drunk, high, thyroid problem, autistic, had a bad childhood etc etc.

“Lots of people have challenging lives but don’t resort to assaulting others. These two are a disgrace and will just go on and do it again but next time the victim may not be quite so lucky.”

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