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The York Press
Thursday May 3, 2007
Christian Dawson beat up and threatened to kill his mother in a drink-fuelled attack.
A WOODCARVER has been sent to jail for two years after he beat up his mother and threatened to kill her.
Christian Paul Dawson, 39, pleaded guilty to repeatedly punching June Smith “with great force” all over her body at her New Earswick home last October, but said he could not even remember assaulting her.
Ms Smith said she had never seen her son so drunk, York Crown Court heard.
She said he shouted to her he was going to kill her during the attack, which left her with a broken finger.
Ms Smith played dead during the assault, hoping this would stop her son. But she had to resort to hitting him on the head with a candle, after he had kicked her between the legs when she was on the floor.
She eventually managed to escape to a neighbour’s property, and Dawson, who was on medication for depression, was arrested and taken to hospital. He was treated there for a suspected overdose of prescription drugs.
But Dawson then headbutted a police officer, PC Matthew Edwards, when he tried to remove him from the hospital because he was being so abusive.
Geraldine Kelly, mitigating, said: “At the time of the offence, Dawson hadn’t been in contact with his mother for some time and went to York to help her out.”
The court heard that Dawson had been helping his mother to decorate her flat, after she had invited him to stay. He had been living in Tottenham, north London.
He “desperately craved” a loving relationship with his mother, and her being “verbally abusive” towards him had sent him in a “downward spiral”.
Sentencing him, Judge Paul Hoffman said: “You said you blamed your mother for your actions, and that you did not see yourself as having committed a crime.
“This was a very aggressive assault on your mother – you kicked her on the legs, and punched her body and head, fracturing one of her fingers. Not content with that, you assaulted a police officer.
“You’re a very volatile man indeed, and you present a danger of committing a serious injury against your mother in the future.”
He jailed Dawson for two years in total for affray, inflicting grievous bodily harm on his mother and actual bodily harm on PC Edwards.
Woman in heartfelt appeal for jailed son who assaulted her in drunken rage
THE mother and victim of jailed Christian Dawson today issued a heartfelt plea to those dealing with her son: “Help him – do not punish him.”
June Smith, 61, was attacked by her 39-year-old son last October, after he returned from a night out drinking with a friend.
But she said Christian had been suffering from long-term depression, caused by his father walking out on the family 23 years ago.
Speaking after her son was sentenced, she said: “He needs somewhere where he will be looked after and assessed. I have looked after him a couple of years and he really needs help.”
Christian is a master stonemason, and worked wonders on the restoration of York Minster following the 1984 fire.
But, said Ms Smith, he had never got over the family break-up.
She said: “I will not turn my back on him. I never will. I just want him to get the help he needs to get his life and his career back on track because it’s a tragedy. All my friends say it’s a tragedy.”
She said she was not asking for him to be set free, but felt it was vital that he was given support to ease his cycle of depression. She said she felt a purely medical institution would have been better than prison for her son.
She said: “He does suffer from depression, which he has suffered since his father left him. That goes back 23 years, to when he was 16. I think that’s the cause of it.”
She said Christian had begged his father to stay, and was never the same after he left.
Ms Smith said Christian had been more or less living at her house for the past three and a half years, and said: “We are probably too close really. We have always been there for each other and always looked after each other. It’s just, I think, you always hurt the one you love don’t you?”
The doting mother said she was angry with the person who had taken Christian out drinking on the night in question. She added: “Christian’s old enough to know not to do it, but then again, you do things you shouldn’t. Everyone does really.”
Whether or not to appeal the sentence was, she said, a decision for Christian and his defence team, but she would support anything which saw him getting as much help as possible.
She said: “He’s in Hull at the moment, but I just hope he can be moved somewhere where he can be assessed and get help with his problems, and get him back on track with his career. It’s a waste and a tragedy because he’s just so talented.”
Psychologist makes plea for counselling
FAMILY psychologist Kevin Browne said Ms Smith was right – her son needs support more than punishment.
He said: “He Christian needs counselling, so I think his mother has a point. What he desperately needs is help. Someone needs to talk to him.”
Prof Browne, an expert based at the University of Birmingham, said depression and resentment often resulted from a family break-up.
He added: “They are obviously suffering from the breakdown of the family.
“Family breakdowns can often lead to violence between those members left.
“If you are living with a depressed individual it can be quite frustrating.”
Prof Browne said the wider disintegration of wider family networks and community as a whole meant family crises could be more traumatic now than in the past, as there was less readily-available support now.”
Genius of the young carver
IT was the biggest restoration project York has ever seen. And Christian Dawson was right at the heart of it.
Presented with a block of wood, stone or marble he was a genius, and he played a pivotal role in helping return York Minster to its former glory, following the devastating fire of 1984.
He became an apprentice carver at the Minster when he was 17, and benefited from a £2,000 bequest from retired timber merchant Anthony David Christie Smith.
Christian’s mother, June Smith, said he had designed three or four of the bosses on the restored South Transept roof, and been introduced to the Queen when she re-opened it in 1988. She said he also appeared on Blue Peter to help judge children’s designs for bosses.
He left York after several years, and went on to work at Lincoln Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament, and also in Cambridge.
Ms Smith said: “He did very well when he got the Minster. He went to sixth form college to do joinery, then got this job at the Minster and that was wonderful. He was really, really happy there.”
She said he wished her son had stayed at the Minster rather than moving away, and she hoped he would be given the help and support he needed to get his career back on its successful track.