Jail for pensioner who battered biker with walking stick

By Jessica Elgot, September 29, 2010
Hit back: Mr Degroot

Hit back: Mr Degroot

A pensioner who was called a "f---ing Jew" by a 6ft 3in biker has been jailed for 18 months after he retaliated by smashing him in the face with a walking stick.

Keith Degroot, 66, who lived in sheltered housing in Leeds, was drinking in the Duck and Drake pub in the city centre with another regular, Stephen Hall - a member of the Blue Angel chapter of the Hells Angels.

During a row, Mr Hall knocked off Mr Degroot's glasses.

A friend of Mr Degroot said that he had once been a regular synagogue attender, but had become very secular and was no longer a member of a congregation. He has a large Jewish family, with relatives in north London and Israel.

The two men knew each other and were regular drinking friends, even nicknaming each other "Cockney Keith" and "Plug". Customers said the exchange had been casual banter before turning nasty.

After the insult, Mr Degroot smashed the muscular biker in the face with his walking stick, causing serious head and facial injuries - including bleeding on the brain and a fractured cheek.

Mr Hall spent five days recovering in hospital after the attack in April 2009.

Mr Degroot, who needed his stick to walk because of a disability, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm at Sheffield Crown Court. His barrister, Derek Duffy, said he had been provoked by the racist language.

He added: "The complainant is 6ft 3in, has a shaved head, is of a heavy, muscular, build and in his fifties. Mr Degroot can neither be described as large or muscular."

Recorder Jane Rowley said: "I accept that you did not intend serious harm but that your reaction was that you were reckless as to whether harm was caused when you struck him a blow of some force with a strike to the face.

"Your offence is so serious that neither a fine nor community punishment can be imposed."

    Last updated: 11:22am, September 29 2010