Street cleaner punched in face after man stole his hat for 'a joke'

The defendant claimed he did nothit the victim hard and apologised.
The defendant claimed he did nothit the victim hard and apologised.

A Burnley street cleaner was left with a broken cheekbone after he was attacked by a man who had been out on the town all night, a court heard.

Michael Fletcher, who started work at 7am, was punched by Charlie Martin (20) after a man Martin was with, but didn't know, had repeatedly stolen Mr Fletcher's hat and given it back for "a joke."

Mr Fletcher chased after the man and grabbed him, at which point Martin ran up and thumped him in the face. The violence was caught on CCTV and Martin was identified and arrested, Burnley magistrates were told.

Martin, who has no previous convictions, is now awaiting sentence after admitting inflicting grievous bodily harm, last November 12th. The defendant, of Charles Street in Nelson, will learn his fate next month.

Miss Parveen Akhtar, prosecuting, told the hearing Mr Fletcher would say he was approached by three men unknown to him, who began to tease him by repeatedly taking his hat off and then returning it.

The victim chased one of them, grabbed hold of him and Martin ran up and hit Mr Fletcher in the face, causing a fractured cheekbone, bruising and swelling. The defendant told police he had met the two men he was with on the night out, one kept pinching Mr Fletcher's hat and he struck Mr Fletcher to try and get him off the man.

Martin claimed he did not hit him hard and said he would like to apologise to Mr Fletcher for his actions.

Mr Mark Williams, defending, said Martin had been out in effect all night and there was some "messing about," taking Mr Fletcher's hat. It happened once or twice and then one of the others took the hat again.

The solicitor continued: "The worker got fed up, chased after him and got him to the floor and at that point he (the defendant) goes over and punched him in the face, to get him off the other person."

Mr Williams added: "He accepted in interview that was not appropriate so far as self-defence is concerned."