• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Littlemore Hospital absconder punched OAP at Cowley cash point

Byoxfordnewspaper

Sep 6, 2022

A pensioner was ‘thumped’ by a drug-addled escapee from a psychiatric hospital, a court heard.

The day before Mark Baxter punched his now 79-year-old victim as she tried to withdraw money from a cashpoint in Temple Cowley, he had absconded from the charge of nurses at Littlemore Hospital – where he was then receiving treatment.

She suffered significant bruising to her face and neck, as well as a ‘complete loss of confidence’.

Sentencing Baxter, 39, at Oxford Crown Court on Monday afternoon, Judge Michael Gledhill QC said: “Fortunately, her injuries were not more serious than they easily could have been.

“She could have fallen down, cracked her skull on the pavement and you could have been in the dock of this court facing something far, far more serious, including a fatal injury.”

After knocking the woman to the floor, Baxter had walked away with ‘not a care in the world’, he added.

Earlier, the court was told that the defendant, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, had ‘deliberately’ absconded the day before and taken heroin. The class A drug was said to trigger his psychosis.

It was unclear why Baxter, who was on licence at the time, had struck the woman. She was withdrawing money from a cash point outside Lloyds bank in Crowell Road at around 8am on July 27 last year when Baxter approached and informed her she had only inputted three numbers of her pin code.

“She was concerned that a man had approached her and was speaking to her at that cash point, no doubt realising she was certainly in a position where money could have been taken from her or her card,” the judge said. No money was, in fact, taken.

In a victim personal statement, the pensioner said the attack left her fearful of going out in case she was attacked by Baxter or someone else.

Mitigating, Kuljeet Dobe asked the judge to impose a suspended prison sentence so his client could receive drug rehabilitation and mental health support. Since the attack, there had been no relapse into drug use and he had secured housing through the city council.

Judge Gledhill went along with the suggestion of the probation service, giving Baxter a two year suspended prison sentence with a drug rehabilitation requirement and mental health treatment programme.

Oxford Mail: Mark Baxter leaves Oxford Crown Court on MondayMark Baxter leaves Oxford Crown Court on Monday

He told the defendant: “The public will think the sentence I impose is far, far too lenient and I understand that. But I can’t turn the clock back.”

The rehabilitation order would help ensure Baxter did not get into ‘further trouble’.

Baxter, of Abingdon Road, Oxford, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to causing actual bodily harm.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward