A teen girl was struck in the face with a bike chain after being sworn at by her attacker, a court heard.

The girl, who was then 16-years-old, had been called a ‘b***’ by the curly-haired man at Cogges Manor Farm, Witney. Asked why, he said: “Because you are.”

The man returned around an hour later, saw the girl and hit her in the face with a bike chain. The girl went to the John Radcliffe Hospital, where staff recorded a 2cm by 2cm swelling on the left side of her jaw.

The attack on August 31, 2020 followed another alleged incident, some time earlier, when the girl had been ‘taken to task’ by the same man for not social distancing – despite being with members of her own household.

Wayne Heep was later identified after the girl saw the man she recognised as her attacker behind the wheel of a white Enterprise hire van several weeks later outside the Tesco Express in Cogges.

She told her father the registration number of the van. He spotted the same vehicle on another date and photographed the man driving it.

The 49-year-old carpenter denied any involvement in the assault. Having been found guilty of causing actual bodily harm at the magistrates’ court earlier this year, he appealed his conviction to Oxford Crown Court.

His lawyers argued that there were question marks over the identification evidence. The girl claimed to have seen him in the van before the attack but, as the vehicle had only been hired from September, that would not have been possible.

In the magistrates’ court, the girl was said to have seen the photograph taken by her father before picking Heep out in the identity parade. Giving her evidence at the crown court, however, she maintained that she had not seen it.

A 999 call made shortly after the assault by another woman described the assailant as being around 49, ‘quite tall’, with dark, curly hair.

In their judgement, Judge Nigel Daly and the two magistrates sitting alongside him described that description as ‘consistent’ with Heep’s appearance.

On its own, that evidence would not be sufficient to prove his guilt, the panel said. But taken together with the victim’s evidence, the panel was ‘satisfied so we are sure’ that the defendant was the assailant.

After his appeal was dismissed, Heep said from the dock: “I wasn’t even there at the time. I wasn’t even down that road.”

Prosecutor Julian Lynch said the defendant, whose case was committed from the magistrates’ court for sentence in the spring, had seven previous convictions but was last in trouble in 2015.

Judge Daly imposed 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years. Heep, of Blakes Avenue, Witney, must complete 180 hours of unpaid work and 30 probation service sessions. He was ordered to pay £500 in prosecution costs.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

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