Man jailed after beating Royston man up so badly he went temporarily blind during theft

Richard Harper was jailed for seven years and four months.

Richard Harper was jailed for seven years and four months. - Credit: Archant

A man who beat up his Royston victim so badly he went temporarily blind has been jailed for seven years and four months.

Richard Harper, 43, of no fixed abode, attacked a 52-year-old man at Welwyn Garden City railway station after he confronted him over the theft of his rucksack.

The victim had fallen asleep on his train and woke up at the station to find his rucksack, containing his laptop and iPad, was missing.

Other passengers informed the man two thieves had left the train with the bag, and he got off to follow them.

He caught up with Harper, who was carrying the bag, on the station bridge and confronted him.

Harper reacted violently, and beat his victim up so badly that he was left with a fractured eye socket, lacerations to his eyelid as well as bruising to his head and body.

The injuries were so serious that on his arrival at hospital, the victim’s eyeball came out of its socket.

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Doctors were able to replace it, but he was temporarily blinded.

Harper’s accomplice, Robert Osborn, 41, of Dacre Road in Hitchin, did not take part in the attack, but was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison for theft at a hearing last year.

Harper pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, having admitted one count of theft at an earlier hearing.

Speaking after Harper was sentenced, Det Insp Chris Neeson said: “This was a horrific attack, which resulted in serious injuries.

“I would like to pay tribute to the victim who endured a difficult recovery. He has shown real bravery throughout this process, and I hope the sentencing will provide him with a sense of closure.

“I would also like to reassure the public that violent incidents like this are extremely rare on the rail network.”