“They should have gone to prison” - anger as hooligans who terrified the elderly to make a DVD are free to walk the streets

Scott King

Scott King - Credit: Su Anderson

They were told their 'cruel and frightening' crime – where they scared the life out of older people by letting off airhorns in their faces and filmed their terrified reactions for a DVD – could carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Scott King

Scott King - Credit: Su Anderson

But today, immature 'hooligans' Scott King, 29, and Ian Hatwell, 32, are free to walk the streets again after avoiding jail and escaping with just 200 hours unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order.

The pair made 70 clips in the style of the cult television programme Jackass, including one which showed Hatwell in the passenger side of a car sounding a large claxon or foghorn near pedestrians.

Another showed a man having liquid, assumed to be water, hurled at him from behind, whereas others showed them swearing at older people and telling them to 'have a short life'.

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Sentence 'wholly inadequate'

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Their crimes, committed in Lowestoft and Gorleston, were described as shocking – so much so that magistrates who could have dealt with the offence declined to do so, instead sending the case to Ipswich Crown Court, where penalties can be much harsher.

But after King and Hatwell escaped with a community order, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Waveney, Bob Blizzard, said: 'I think the sentence is wholly inadequate. I think they should have gone to prison. It's disgraceful behaviour and the fact they were filming it shows it was pre-meditated and makes it even worse.'

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said that he 'would question whether this sentence was entirely appropriate for what they've done' – but asked: 'What's gained by sending them to prison?'

Hatwell, of Compass Street, Lowestoft, and King, of Maidstone Road, Norwich, had previously pleaded guilty to an offence under the Public Order Act.

'Bullying, cruel and frightening'

Sentencing yesterday at Ipswich Crown Court, Judge David Goodin described them as 'hooligans' and said: 'This course of conduct, which might have been fashionable at the time, actually was bullying, cruel and frightening because you picked on vulnerable victims and gave them the fright of their lives.

'Your behaviour was pitifully pathetic, puerile, immature and just plain stupid, which mitigates to some extent any intention to be deliberately cruel.'

Andrew Thompson, representing Hatwell, said: 'It was appalling behaviour. It's behaviour that's profoundly regretted by Mr Hatwell.'

Laura Kenyon, representing King, said her client's adolescent immaturity had 'trickled over into adulthood' and that at the time he did not appreciate the effect of his actions.

In addition to their community orders, Hatwell and King were ordered to each pay £85 costs.

The reaction

? Bob Blizzard, Labour parliamentary candidate for Waveney: 'This is effectively violence against a person and older people could have had trauma, heart attacks or all kinds of things. I think this sentence is far too lenient.'

? Waveney MP Peter Aldous: 'It's appalling, pre-meditated and there was intent to make money. However, they have shown remorse. I would just ask the question of whether this was the maximum sentence they could have got without a custodial sentence? Could they have got a longer period of community work?'

? Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore: 'There is absolutely no excuse whatever for such disgraceful behaviour. I don't believe for one moment their intentions weren't deliberate as they filmed the sorry episodes. These are two supposedly adult individuals and they need to understand the impact of their obscene behaviour. I hope that while they serve their community sentences they are made to reflect on their despicable actions and the huge distress caused.'

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