A MAN who attacked a ‘vulnerable’ young woman with mental health problems has been jailed for 18 months.

Paul Spencer, of West Bay, appeared at Dorchester Crown Court to be sentenced for assault occasioning actual bodily harm after being convicted following a trial in June.

The 40-year-old had appeared in the dock alongside a 17-year-old youth during the trial but the younger defendant was acquitted of the same charge.

Spencer was found guilty of the attack on Rama Newhouse at her flat in South Street in Bridport back in November 2010.

Judge Roger Jarvis said that he was sentencing Spencer on the basis that he had struck her to the face a number of times, knocking her to the floor.

During the trial the jury was told Miss Newhouse was also kicked by both defendants while she was on the floor but Judge Jarvis said that, in light of the jury’s verdicts, he could not take that into account as he sentenced Spencer.

He said: “I propose to sentence Mr Spencer on the basis that he dealt a violent blow to the victim when he was an unexpected third party.

“That blow landed on the temple or eye area and he threw a further four or so blows before she fell to the floor.”

Prosecutor Jennie Rickman said Miss Newhouse had been living in sheltered accommodation at the time of the attack and was suffering from a borderline personality disorder and had been taking anti-depressant medication.

She added: “She was a vulnerable victim in that sense.”

The assault left Miss Newhouse with a fracture to the left eye socket that the court was told caused her ongoing difficulties.

Jamie Porter, mitigating, said Spencer – who had 16 previous convictions for 24 offences – also had mental health issues.

He said: “He has a significant offending history, all of which seems to stem, at least in part, from his mental illness.”

Mr Porter added: “He is capable of committing acts of violence whilst insane through a psychotic delusion.”

Judge Roger Jarvis told Spencer as he sentenced him to 18 months in custody: “It is clear that at the time of the attack your victim was very heavily bruised.

“There was a fracture to her left eye socket and she now has long-standing difficulties.”