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A GANG of violent thugs are today behind bars after “luring” a teenager to a Southampton park and unleashing a frightening attack on him.

The unsuspecting 19-year-old was jumped on by a gang of eight men on Southampton Common, who punched and kicked him to the ground, before grabbing him by the throat.

Three of those thugs, Rhys Thornton, Adam McAlister and dad-of-one Luke Aldridge are now in prison, having left their vulnerable victim with two broken ribs and too afraid to go out on his own.

Daily Echo: Adam McAlister                                      Rhys Thornton

Southampton Crown Court heard how the victim headed to the play park at the Common on the night of June 1, after receiving a text from his girlfriend who asked him to meet her there.

Prosecutor Rachael Robertson told the court how the pair had been arguing over text messages earlier that evening.

Ms Robertson said that when he arrived at the park, which was in darkness, he noticed Thornton, 18, and seven other men heading towards him as he sat next to his girlfriend on a bench.

The court heard how they surrounded him and rained down a series of punches and kicks to his face and body, which didn’t stop when fell to the ground.

At one point, Ms Roberston said that Thornton grabbed the frightened teenager by the throat and said “If you grass me up I am going to punch your granddad”.

McAlister, 23, stole the victim’s mobile phone, while Thornton, of Pansy Road, in Southampton, rifled through his wallet but threw it away when he found nothing inside.

As the gang ran off, the 19-year-old headed to the Cowherds pub to call for help and was later treated at Southampton General Hospital for extensive bruising, a cut lip and two broken ribs.

In his victim impact statement read out to the court, the teenager spoke of his fear of that the gang would seek “revenge” and that he is now “scared of going into town” in case he bumps into them.

This fear was made worse when, five months after the attack, Thornton threatened to “smash his face in” as he walked down the street with his mum.

The trio, who all have previous convictions, pleaded guilty.
Judge John Williams said the gang had “lured” their victim to the Common and left him “shaken and frightened and scared to go out”.

He added: “It was planned, there was kicking, there was a group attacking a young man in the dark.”

Sentences

Rhys Thornton
Age: 18
Address: Pansy Road, Southampton
Plea: Pleaded guilty to actual bodily harm (ABH), attempted robbery of a wallet and witness intimidation.
Sentence: A total of two years and two months – 18 months for ABH, four months for attempted theft and four months for witness intimidation, all to run consecutively.

Adam McAlister
Age: 23
Address: Cranberry Place, Southampton
Plea: Pleaded guilty to ABH and theft of a mobile phone.
Sentence: A total of two years – 18 months for ABH and six months for theft.

Luke Aldridge
Age: 24
Address: Cranberry Place, Southampton
Plea: Pleaded guilty to ABH
Sentence: 18 months for ABH