Falmouth businessman left badly injured in pool of blood condemns attacker's light sentence

Falmouth Packet: Sarah and Paul Rutter have spoken out following the sentencing of one of Mr Rutter's attackers. Sarah and Paul Rutter have spoken out following the sentencing of one of Mr Rutter's attackers.

A Falmouth businessman who was left badly injured in a pool of his own blood has spoken out against the justice system that left his attacker facing just 140 hours community service.

Paul Rutter, who runs three businesses in the area, was the victim of a brutal attack that resulted in the bones of his face being shattered after being set upon outside a Falmouth pub.

Following a 24-month battle to get the case to court, Mr Rutter and his wife Sarah finally saw only one of the two alleged assailants sentenced this month for his part in the attack - to just 140 hours of community service and a six-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

Scott Whitburn, of Kenwyn Street, Truro, had been due to stand trial earlier in the year on a charge of grievous bodily harm, but was sentenced this month after the prosecution accepted a lesser charge of affray.

However, the couple feel that neither the charge nor the sentence reflects their impression of 20-year-old Whitburn’s involvement in the attack.

The Rutters suffered further heartache when one of Whitburn’s bail restrictions, that he could not enter Falmouth, was relaxed when he secured a new job in the town.

“His life goes on as if nothing has happened,” said Mr Rutter, “it all seems one-sided in favour of the assailant. And we are left with no closure.

“The perpetrators are quite well looked after in a bizarre way. They have a lot of rights.”

A second man has since absconded and is now believed to be living abroad.

A warrant is out for his arrest but he cannot be named for legal reasons.

The second man is alleged to have kicked Mr Rutter, 43, so hard in the face that doctors initially feared he may have been brain damaged.

“I thought they had killed him,” said Mrs Rutter, “he was lying in the road and I couldn't see his eyes there was so much blood. For a while he couldn't even respond to me and I thought that he was dead.

“Paul needed facial reconstruction surgery, he still has no feeling in his face and suffers massively as a result of the attack. Yet two and a half years later the sentence is just 140 hours of community service. From my point of view that’s not justice. There’s no sentence whatsoever.”

Mr Rutter, who spent five and a half hours in surgery following the attack, said: “The surgeon said if it wasn’t for the fact I kept fit, without doubt it would have broken my neck and the attack would have been fatal.”

Surgeons rebuilt Mr Rutter’s face accessing his cheeks from inside his mouth using eight titanium screws, two plates and two bolts, which will now have to remain permanently.

He has been told he is unlikely to recover the feeling in his face as a result of intensive nerve damage.

The attack happened in September 2011 after Mrs Rutter accidentally dropped a drink in a Falmouth bar, splashing a woman who became upset.

Others stepped in and the Rutters decided to leave but, as they reached the street, Mr Rutter was quickly surrounded and Whitburn threw a punch which knocked him to the ground paving the way for a worsening of the attack.

Mr Rutter has publicly thanked the people who helped him immediately after the attack as well as his surgeons and the staff at Victim Support.

“I really want to thank the witnesses who came forward and gave statements,” said Mr Rutter. “They’re brave people and they don’t get the recognition they deserve. These were complete strangers who saw it and were horrified by it.”

Despite the attack Mr Rutter has refused to let it take over his life and continues to work hard on his three businesses L&R Unique Furniture and Joinery, Unique Eco Fuels and the Herniss Business Park near Falmouth where he has enjoyed “a huge amount of support” from friends and clients.

Comments (2)

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8:17am Fri 20 Dec 13

molesworth says...

This sort of injustice upsets me more than anything else. Is it any wonder why people become vigilantes? It's disgusting that a man can almost be violently killed whilst out for the evening minding his own business and the perpetrators walk free. Suspended sentences for such violence should be stopped. This story should be taken up by the nationals and there should be an official enquiry into the sentencing.
This sort of injustice upsets me more than anything else. Is it any wonder why people become vigilantes? It's disgusting that a man can almost be violently killed whilst out for the evening minding his own business and the perpetrators walk free. Suspended sentences for such violence should be stopped. This story should be taken up by the nationals and there should be an official enquiry into the sentencing. molesworth

10:34am Fri 20 Dec 13

Nigel K says...

Totally totally wrong. The victim is always the last one to be thought of in cases/crimes now, it sends totally the wrong message out that behavior like this will go virtually unpunished.

24 month battle to go to court? I can totally believe that here now after facing our own lack of justice from the police & CPS.

The whole system is wrong.
Totally totally wrong. The victim is always the last one to be thought of in cases/crimes now, it sends totally the wrong message out that behavior like this will go virtually unpunished. 24 month battle to go to court? I can totally believe that here now after facing our own lack of justice from the police & CPS. The whole system is wrong. Nigel K

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