A VULNERABLE Kendal man was attacked with a dog toy, waterboarded and robbed as two men meted out grotesque violence which left him badly hurt.

The man, an alcoholic, was alone and drunk inside his town flat on July 10, 2022, when five people arrived unannounced. The man knew one but not the other four, who included Leigh Jonathon Dirkin, 31, and Peter Christopher Hall, 41.

Carlisle Crown heard that for 90 minutes the group — including Dirkin and Hall — drank in his front room, sharing champagne, cider and lager.

Angered by the householder allegedly making a serious revelation, Hall picked up a dog toy and hit him in the face, splitting his lip.

“He describes seeing stars, before a second blow caught him on the nose,” said prosecutor Andrew Evans. “He describes feeling his nose crumble, his eyes watering to the extent that he cannot state what it was that was used to hit him. There were multiple such strikes.”

As the man got up to leave his flat, he found the chain had been put on the door. Hall pulled him back to the sofa. “He describes from there an ongoing assault over the course of at least an hour, describing punches and further blows with the dog toy,” said Mr Evans. “There was a stage when Mr Hall was stood above him and pushing him down onto the sofa.”

Others did nothing to help. Dirkin joined the abuse by spitting and then placing a flannel over the injured householder’s mouth before pouring in water — an act which Judge Michael Fanning concluded was “waterboarding” and “torture”.

Dirkin took the man’s wallet and phone, was also given his PIN but found when visiting a nearby cash machine his account was empty. Dirkin kept £20 in cash and a driving licence from the wallet, along with a smartphone. “Eventually the situation calmed, the visitors left and (the man) fell asleep,” said Mr Evans. “Awaking in the morning he saw the state of his injuries. Without a phone he began knocking on neighbours’ doors trying to get help.

“A workman called the police and ambulance. Conveyed to hospital, a CT scan and x-ray confirmed his suspicion of a broken nose. His face was badly bruised and swollen, he had bruising to his arms and torso and an apparent footprint mark on his rib area.”

The man also realised he’d lost a necklace and that an eyebrow piercing had been ripped out.

In an impact statement, the victim described physical and mental suffering in the aftermath. He sustained a badly scratched eye, detailed sharp headaches behind the eyes, of awaiting an operation on a complex nasal fracture and his forehead being scarred.

“He is concerned he may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder,” added Mr Evans.

Dirkin, of Farm Street, Barrow, admitted robbery while Hall, previously of Kendal, admitted actual bodily harm assault. Both men were said by their barristers to be remorseful for their offending.

Eve Salter, for Hall, said there was a degree of provocation following the man’s alleged comment.

Michelle Brown, for Dirkin, said: “He asks me to apologise publicly. He says it was not acceptable.”

Judge Fanning referred to the victim’s statement as he referenced the waterboarding. “With a broken nose and unable to breathe, he felt as if he was drowning,” he said.

It had been a “persistent and prolonged” violence, and Judge Fanning concluded: “There was gratuitous degradation of this victim.”

Dirkin was jailed for seven-and-a-half years, and Hall for 37 months.