Teenager who kicked pensioner, 74, into river in 'sickening' viral attack jailed

·4 min read
Benjamin Bridgeman, 19, has been jailed for 10 weeks for kicking an elderly man into a river. (SWNS)
Benjamin Bridgeman, 19, has been jailed for 10 weeks for kicking an elderly man into a river. (SWNS)

A teenager has been jailed for 10 weeks after a 'sickening' video of him kicking a pensioner into a river went viral online

Benjamin Bridgeman, 19, was filmed kicking the 74-year-old into the River Mersey in Warrington before running away, leaving his victim struggling in the water until two teenage girls pulled him out of the river.

The man, who had been fishing at the time, walked home after the incident in April where he told his family who then reported it to the police.

Bridgeman, from Warrington, who was 18 at the time of the incident, handed himself in at a police station following a public appeal for information over the attack.

Watch: Teenager apologises after kicking 74-year-old man into a river

After admitting assault at a previous court appearance, the teen issued a public apology outside court.

But he was handed a 10-week sentence at Warrington Magistrates' Court after the court heard he had failed to engage with probation officers for previous offences.

Read more: Stalker neighbour jailed after being caught with listening devices he planted on victim's bed

The court also heard that Bridgeman's victim was "completely changed" as a result of the ordeal.

In a statement read to the court, his wife said: "I feel I have seen a decline in his mental health – I have tried to get him to go and see a doctor, but he is refusing to get help.

"He is confused and fearful – he feels that he has lost all faith in the system."

Bridgeman was caught on camera delivering a flying kick to the elderly man and knocking him into the River Mersey.
Bridgeman was caught on camera delivering a flying kick to the elderly man and knocking him into the River Mersey. (SWNS)

She added: "The incident has made him think that all teenagers are trouble and would treat him in the same way if given the chance.

"We used to go for walks along the river, but since the incident he is refusing to do so – particularly near any kind of water – as he is scared of being assaulted again.

"He feels he is lucky to be alive and I agree with him, because he might have drowned.

"This incident will have an impact on him for the rest of his life. I can only hope that in the coming weeks and months he will be able to process what has happened."

The court earlier heard the elderly man was standing on the banks of the river magnet fishing at around 2.30pm on Sunday, 25 April.

Video footage of the attack showed Bridgeman deliver a flying kick to his back, causing him to fall into the river.

He was wearing a puffer jacket at the time which quickly filled up with water and left him struggling to breathe and "just about managed to keep his head above water" before he was rescued by two teenager girls.

Bridgeman previously apologised for the attack. (SWNS)
Bridgeman previously apologised for the attack. (SWNS)

Sentencing Bridgeman, deputy district judge Ian Barnes said it was an "extremely serious offence".

"We have the frankly quite sickening video," he said. "You ran away afterwards, leaving him struggling in the water. It clearly had a massive effect on the victim in this case.

"It was not reckless, it was a deliberate act, that’s quite clear."

In a public apology caught on video outside court last month, Bridgeman said: "Obviously I’m very sorry.

"You’ll see me do my time, which I deserve."

A 15-year-old boy who uploaded the clip to Snapchat also admitted assault and was handed a 12-month youth referral order on June 4.

Speaking after the sentencing, Inspector Daniel Haddock from Cheshire Constabulary, said: "This was a disgraceful act which not only shocked the local community but the nation.

"What the pair saw as funny could have cost this man his life. They have also taken away what was once a favourite and enjoyable place for him to go fishing.

"It is pure luck that two teenage girls were walking past at the time and saw him in the water.

"Without a second thought they came to his aid and pulled him to safety. It is their actions that restore our faith in humanity."

He added: "I know how much of an impact this has had on the gentleman.

"I only hope the support from the community, and knowing those responsible have been punished for what they did, helps him to feel comfortable to one day return to his favourite place."