A teenager who was filmed kicking a helpless pensioner into a freezing river has today been sentenced to 10 weeks in prison.
Benjamin Bridgeman, 19, was filmed on Snapchat kicking a man, 74, into the River Mersey from behind as he was fishing by the water’s edge in April.
The teenager, who was accompanied by a 16-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, can be seen running away and laughing after the attack.
The helpless pensioner was only rescued from the freezing waters after two heroic schoolgirls heard his cries for help and formed a human chain to pull him to safety.
Bridgeman, who apologised after admitting the assault, had previously explained his behaviour by saying: ‘everyone makes mistakes’ and that he didn’t realise his victim was 74-years-old.
A judge presiding over his sentencing at a Warrington court labelled the attack an ‘extremely serious offence’ and described the video footage as ‘frankly sickening’.
She said the pensioner had been ‘looking over the River Mersey’ and thought he had been ‘pushed very hard from behind’.
Footage shared on Snapchat shows Bridgeman kicking the pensioner in the back alongside laughing emojis.
Ms Blackmore said: ‘He has fallen into the river and banged his face on something.
‘He described the water as being really cold and being really shocked.’
The victim was wearing a black puffa jacket and was ‘just managing to keep his head above water’ as he wasn’t a strong swimmer.
Heroic schoolgirls Khloe Woods and Ellie Hughes, both 14, heard the man’s cries and told MailOnline how they formed a human chain to help pull him out.
Khloe said: ‘We just saw the man in the river holding on to a branch. Ellie had hold of me and I reached out and grabbed the man.
‘I was worried that when he let go of the branch, I might lose my grip and he would have gone down the river.
‘We got him out and to safety and asked him if he was OK. He was soaking wet. It all just happened so fast.’
‘A woman then came to help us. We offered to call an ambulance but the man said he didn’t want us to.’
The pensioner returned home, but initially ‘didn’t want to upset his wife’ – telling her he had fallen in but later coming clean and explaining he had been pushed.
Ms Blackmore said he was ‘very upset and shocked’ and in a victim personal statement his wife said he has ‘changed in personality’ and has become forgetful.
She explained that he was distressed by the loss of a keyring, as his keys had fallen from his pocket and he returned later the same day to search for it.
The man’s wife also said he ‘feels lucky to be alive’ as he could have drowned if not for the young girls.
Following the attack Bridgeman handed himself in on April 28 and said he ‘deeply regrets’ kicking the pensioner.
Bridgeman has previous convictions for having weapons, criminal damage and breaches of a community order.
‘He accepts you’re going to punish him severely for this. He understands that is the right
Mark Lever, defending, said: ‘This could have had a very very serious outcome and he knows that.
Speaking outside court at a previous hearing Bridgeman said ‘everyone makes mistakes’.
He said: ‘Obviously I’m very sorry and that, you know, it wasn’t supposed to happen. I didn’t realise he was 74 years old.’
Bridgeman, of Quebec Road, Orford, Warrington, admitted one count of assault.
District Judge Nicholas Sanders, sentencing, it is an ‘extremely serious offence’ and described the video as ‘frankly sickening’.
The judge said: ‘You ran away afterwards leaving him struggling in the water.
‘You actually were with a child and I can only assume encouraged the child to do what he did.
‘It clearly had a massive effect on the victim in this case.’
Bridgeman had been subject to supervision from the youth offending service for two years but had ‘failed to cooperate in full’ both with the supervision and with the probation service.
Bridgeman failed to engage with a pre-sentence report, and told the probation officer it ‘wasn’t really worth it’.
Bridgeman was jailed for 10 weeks and must pay £500 in compensation to his victim.
District Judge Sanders said credit should go to those who helped the victim adding: ‘They get the credit, you certainly don’t.’
The boy who filmed the attack was previously handed a 12 month youth referral order and was ordered to pay £500 in compensation.