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Vigilante jailed for beating motorcyclist after knocking him from bike

Steven Walden believed the victim to be riding a stolen motorcycle

A VIGILANTE who launched a vicious attack on a motorcyclist after mistaking him for a bike thief has been jailed for nearly seven years.  

After chasing the rider down residential roads, reaching speeds of 70mph, Steven Walden collided with the 19-year-old biker, seriously injuring him and flipping his own car in the process. The 22-year-old then set upon his victim with a baton, before instructing fellow vigilantes to leave the scene.

Southampton Crown Court heard that Walden, of Acacia Road, Southampton, and five others had received a tip-off via a Hampshire Constabulary supported Facebook group that a motorcycle had been stolen and was in Woolston.

The group, which met up once a month to scour the streets to find stolen motorbikes, set off in two cars, with Walden led the group's chase in a vehicle, which had fake number plates on it, before finding the rider.

Despite pleas from the others in the car to slow down and not knock the victim over, Walden struck the motorcyclist on Weston Lane in the early hours of July 19.

One witness, a Mr Wright, told the court: "His car rolled over and it seems that everyone got out and the first thing Walden did was get the [baton] out of the car and strike the motorcyclist who was lying on the floor in pain.

"He gave the [baton] to another of his friends and encouraged everyone to leave the scene and the motorcyclist on his own with significant injuries."

The court heard how the victim sustained a fractured skull, broken collar bone and a bleed on the brain as a result of the attack.

Mr Wright added that shortly after fleeing the scene, Walden contacted the police to say his car had been stolen, in order to make it appear that he hadn’t been involved in the incident.

However, he was arrested the following day on charges of with causing serious injury by dangerous driving, possessing an offensive weapon, perverting the course of justice, using fraudulent vehicle registration plates, driving without insurance and driving without a licence. He admitted the charges, plus that of causing actual bodily harm to a man who had become friends with his ex-girlfriend, at Southampton Magistrates Court on July 21st.

At Southampton Crown Court, Walden’s defence argued that he was unhappy with the current epidemic of bike theft and since helping out with a Facebook group dedicated to finding stolen bikes, had located more than 300 motorbikes.

But he added Walden would now be forced to leave Southampton after receiving death threats on social media.

Judge Christopher Parker QC branded Walden a "cowardly bully" and sent him to prison for six years and 10 months.

"You put the lives of the motorcyclist, yourself and your friends at risk...you speak of the people who support what you do [trying to find stolen motorbikes] but your actions caused this many a serious injury,” he said.

"What you did was plainly wrong and anyone who supports what you do should know that."

He added: "You are a cowardly bully."

Walden was also banned from driving for seven years and one month and will have to take an extended test if he wishes to drive again.

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