A former French Foreign Legion solider has been jailed for displaying what a Crown Court judge has described as ’repeated, cowardly violence’ during a daytime attack in Cardigan town centre.
“You used repeated violence, and you did so in a cowardly way,” Justice Huw Jones told Phillip Harries during his sentencing at Swansea Crown Court earlier today (Wednesday).
Phillip Harries, 60, was standing outside The Saddlers Arms in Cardigan at around 3.20pm on Thursday, December 1 when he spat directly at the windscreen of a car which was being driven by Mr Simon Winterfeld.
Mr Winterfeld promptly parked his car and walked across to question Phillip Harries about his actions.
CCTV footage was shown to the court where Harries and Mr Winterfeld were seen speaking to each other, before Harries turned around and walked back into the pub.
But within a short while, he was seen walking back out onto the street. As Mr Winterfeld stood facing the road with his back to the pub, Harries pushed him from behind, causing him to fall to the ground. Harries then kicked him three times to his face and upper body.
Rhian Jeremiah, who was known to both the defendant and his victim, attempted to intervene and pull Harries out of the way but he grabbed her and pushed her away.
Harries was then seen lifting Mr Winterfeld partially off the ground before slamming him back onto the pavement.
As a result of his attack, Winterfeld sustained bleeding to the brain, a broken nose and two fractured teeth.
After being interviewed by the police, Harries was released on conditional bail when he was prevented from having contact with either of the two victims.
But three months later he phoned Rhian Jeremiah and informed her that he was coming to her house.
“He pushed the front door open and entered the house,” said counsel for the Crown, Brian Simpson KC.
“He grabbed the top of her left arm and tried to pull her down the stairs but her dog bit his leg which caused him to let go and leave.”
Mr Simpson went on to say that when police visited Harries in his caravan in Gwbert, they saw him hold a meat cleaver to his throat and threatened to turn the gas on.
In a victim impact statement read out to the court, Mr Winterfeld said the attack has had a profound effect on him and his family.
“This happened just before Christmas with the result that I wasn’t able to work for five weeks and didn’t have money for my family,” he said.
“My daughter became my carer.”
Mr Winterfeld went on to say that he still suffers from headaches as a result of the assault and has also suffered from blurred vision.
Philip Harries was represented in court by defence counsel Mr David Johns, KC.
“This happened in a busy town centre during daylight hours with children and shoppers around, who witnessed a truly horrific attack,” he said.
“But the defendant believes, and this may be mistaken, that he was in a relationship with Rhian Jeremiah. But during the relationship, she was also having a relationship with Mr Winterfeld.
“There was some degree of acrimony between them both, but there is no reason for anything that went on before to result in the aftermath of what happened that day.”
Mr John informed the court that Harries joined the French Foreign Legion in 1986 and remained with them for many years until moving to Ceredigion some ten years ago. Since then, he has been employed as a paneller with Cardigan Outboards.
Harries pleaded guilty to causing grevious bodily harm with intent against Mr Simon Winterfeld and two additional charges of battery against Ms Rhian Jeremiah.
He was sentenced to three years and five months in custody. Half of this sentence will be spent in prison while the remainder will be spent on licence.
He was also subjected to a seven-year restraining order against Mr Simon Winterfeld.
“This physical violence happened, unbelievably, on a Thursday afternoon in full view of passersby, including young children,” concluded Judge Huw Rees.
“You must realise that people can be badly affected by seeing any violence, and those images can stay with them for ever and a day.”