A MAN who attacked a fellow homeless person as he slept in his tent was spared prison when a judge learned how he was now volunteering to help those living on the streets.

Jonathan Owen told his victim “I hate you, you little *******” and while he was down on his knees he punched him in the ribs and kicked him in the face.

Martin Woolley needed treatment at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, but, at first, he was afraid to give police details of his assailants, Owen and another man, Phillip Collo, who took the leading role in terrorising him.

Prosecutor Simon Mintz told Mold Crown Court how Mr Woolley felt himself being subjected to hard kicks to his back through the canvas of his tent which he had pitched in a wooded area off Stansty Road in Wrexham.

Demands for cash were made and Collo returned to punish him when he failed to come up with the money.

Owen, 42, formerly of Holt Road, Wrexham pleaded guilty to robbery.

Collo, 43, of Bryn Clyd, Leeswood was jailed at a previous hearing for six-and-a-half years after a jury found him guilty of robbery and a wounding charge.

Collo and Owen had both suffered from homelessness, but they showed no concern as they kicked their victim before stealing his phone and other items, while one of them shouted “You’ve got until Monday to get the money or we are coming back”.

Collo kept his word and returned to inflict serious injuries – Mr Woolley suffered a damaged spleen and a fractured eye socket in a second attack which Owen was not involved in.

But nevertheless Judge Niclas Parry told Owen: “This was a horrible offence because of all people you, knowing what homelessness and vulnerability is, attacked another homeless person. You shudder to think that he knew when he went to sleep in his tent that some people could come by and kick him like that.

“Then when he crawled out on all fours you kicked him in the face.”

But the judge drew back from sending Owen to prison and suspended his 21-month custodial sentence for two years after hearing how he was turning his life around.

From using the soup kitchen service in Wrexham, Owen was now helping out there as a volunteer and had joined a homeless persons choir.

His time on remand had been a “sobering experience” for him, said defence barrister Philip Clemo.

“In the past he thought taking things like spice would help calm his anxiety. This offence was a wake-up call.”

Judge Parry added: “I have read references that show you have been able to find permanent accommodation and you are highly regarded. Having been a user of the soup kitchen you now volunteer there.

“Your life has been transformed.”

As part of his punishment Owen was told to complete 19 programme sessions and 15 rehabilitation activity days as well as complete 125 hours of unpaid work. A restraining order was also imposed on him.