A Romanian man who carried out a frenzied crowbar attack on one of his fellow countrymen in Luton was jailed for seven and a half years today.
Thousands of people saw the viral video of 31-year-old Nicolae Artan raining down blows with the crowbar on Christian Gheti as he lay on the ground in Manchester Street, Luton, in the early hours of October 26 last year.
The mobile phone footage, along with CCTV, was played before Luton Crown Court yesterday, where it emerged Gheti was the instigator who brought the crowbar to the scene.
After a fight which saw bottles thrown, Gheti was deprived of his own weapon – which Artan used to beat him repeatedly.
The beating caused Gheti to suffer a deep skull fracture, a sub-arachnoid haemorrage, two fractures to his spine, a puncture wound to the left side of his chest wall, internal bruising of the lungs and multiple lacerations.
Judge Lynn Tayton QC said: “This was clearly a repeated assault on the same victim with the use of a weapon, namely a crowbar.
“It’s right however, to say that there was a greater deal of provocation than normally expected.”
Artan himself was injured and sought medical help in Romania, where he fled five days after the attack. He was extradited back to the UK in May after a European Arrest Warrant was issued.
When pleading guilty to grevious bodily harm with intent, Artan claimed that Gheti and his cousin had been sent to attack him by a Romanian woman, who was apparently angered after Artan and his friend laughed when she dropped several alcohol bottles in VS Food and Wine store in Manchester Street.
Judge Tayton said: “You and your friend were outside the shop at around 1am when the victim and his cousin arrived. For whatever reason, words were exchanged.
“I see from the CCTV that the victim Christian Gheti and his cousin left the shop, went to their car and removed a long crowbar. He and his cousin then ran at you and your friend.
“There was a confrontation and eventually, Christian Gheti and his cousin ran off, still in possession of a crowbar. It appears bottles were thrown.
“But matters were not left there. Christian Gheti returned with the crowbar and again went for you and your friend. There was a struggle, in which he was disarmed and you came into possession of the crowbar.
“You then chased him and eventually he fell to the floor. What then happened was witnessed by a taxi driver and someone who filmed this on their mobile phone.
“You hit Christian Gheti repeatedly, it would appear first when he was crossing a taxi rank and then when he fell to the ground. Each time he was hit, he cried out. Listening to these cries and watching what happened, it seems to me he was hit at least nine times.
“You then threw away the crowbar, before hiding your face from whoever was filming. Christian Gheti was left lying on the floor to be assisted by members of the public who gathered around.”
After being taken to Luton & Dunstable Hospital, Gheti was transferred to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge where he was operated upon the next day, with metal plates placed in his skull. His injuries were confirmed by a neurosurgeon.
In a victim personal impact statement, Gheti revealed he had suffered cognitive damage after the attack and also had a limp, which had led to him struggling to find work.
Detective Constable Scott Hannam, who investigated the incident, said: “This attack enraged Luton’s Romanian population. With assistance from that community, Artan was identified and apprehended.
“The victim sustained serious injuries, and I’m pleased that the court understood the severity of the attack and handed out a lengthy sentence.
“This demonstrates violence will not be tolerated in Bedfordshire, and we will come down hard on those who seek to bring harm to others in this way.”
Artan will serve half of his sentence before being eligible for release on licence. The court also ordered the destruction of the crowbar.