Man jailed after Romford traveller had hand almost cut off in ‘hideously violent’ attack

Chelmsford Crown Court

Chelmsford Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A man has been jailed for eight years for his part in a bloodthirsty 30-second attack on a Romford traveller who had his hand virtually chopped off.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard the attack was the culmination if a catalogue of violence between two warring traveller families, on Friday.

Paul Saunders, 30, was one of three masked men who jumped out of a stolen car outside Nu-Bar, Loughton High Road, and set upon 24-year-old Edward Dooley.

Mr Dooley’s left hand was virtually severed in the attack and his left index finger was cut off.

He also suffered deep wounds to both legs, a fractured skull, and cuts to head, back and neck at 11.30pm on November 6 last year.

Saunders of Biggin Lane, Chadwell St Mary, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

Judge David Turner QC told him : “This was a hideously violent attack on a man who was standing in the street. It was brutal, sustained, terrifying, witnessed by members of the public, at night in a busy high street.

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“You had crow bars and machetes, heavily armed. He was a targeted individual. There was a frenzied attack – one eye witness said it was “as a pack of dogs”. Mr Dooley was left for dead with terrible injuries.

“This attack had a revenge or punishment dimension.”

The judge said there had been hostilities between the two families for nearly two years.

He accepted Saunders had reached the end of his tether but told him he couldn’t take the law into his own hands.

The court heard how the incident before the Loughton attack involved a shotgun fired six or seven times at Saunders’ parents’ home when his mother was inside with four sleeping children.

In other incidents, one of his brothers’ ears was severed in an attack and his brother and a cousin had been slashed across their stomachs.

The defendant’s wife has also been threatened with rape and his father Tony was shot in the face, the court heard.

Mitigating, Jeremy Dein QC told the judge that Saunders, a hard-working family man with no previous convictions, was “wracked with guilt” and angry at himself for becoming involved. He was not the main attacker.