A ‘violent’ teenager has walked free from court after striking a woman so hard her skull was exposed, leaving a ‘lifelong scar’, in the early hours of a New Year’s Day.
Callum Barlow was just 16-years-old when he committed the assault on the mum, whom he has known – along with her family – ‘from living in the same area since birth’.
The horrific attack came after Barlow was found to have smashed in the window to her car just 12 days prior.
But despite the slew of aggressive incidents, the now 18-year-old has been released from custody following a sentencing hearing today, May 13, at Bolton Crown Court.
In the first of two incident surrounding the same victim, Barlow smashed the window to the woman’s car on December 20, 2019, heard the court.
The reasons behind the destruction are ‘unclear’, with prosecutor Bob Sastry saying it is believed there were ‘issues surrounding debt, not related to drugs, but a loan from what may have been a loan shark’.
The conflict ‘set the stage’ for what took place a matter of days later – when Barlow again showed his ‘troubled’ streak on New Year’s Day, 2020.
Barlow was walking along Wigan Road, Leigh, at around 1am on January 1 when he was spotted by the victim, who was driving along with her husband.
The couple pulled over to ask the teenager about the window damage, with the female victim speaking to Barlow.
Barlow suddenly produced a metal bar from his sleeve and launched into a vile attack, heard the court.
The then-16-year-old struck his victim once across the head, leaving a huge gash in her forehead, before running from the scene of his crime.
The mum was rushed to Wigan Infirmary, where doctors examined the ‘half-moon shaped laceration to her forehead, which exposed the skull and left the skin retracted’.
The victim was forced to have a tetanus jab, a course of antibiotics, as well as scans to make sure the injury would not become even more serious.
After seeing images of the wound, the judge presiding over the case slammed Barlow, calling the pictures ‘shocking’.
Barlow initially denied the offences, claiming he did not know where he had been at the time of the window smash, and that he was staying with a friend on New Year’s Day.
The teenager was found out when police interviewed the friend he had alleged to be with, the prosecutor continued.
The ‘friend’ told officers that they were not with Barlow on January 1, nor had he seen the teenager for at least six months.
On December 3, 2020, almost a year to the day of the first incident, Barlow was convicted of criminal damage to the car, and then pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and possession of the metal bar as an offensive weapon.
Defending, Kate Roxburgh said Barlow pleaded guilty to the ‘full facts of the case’.
The victim says she has been left devastated by the attack – and the ‘lifelong disfigurement’ she faces with a large, permanent scar in the centre of her face, serving only as a ‘reminder’ of the brutal attack.
« I have anxiety going out of the house because of the scar in the centre of my forehead, » said the victim in a statement read out in court.
« I believe people will stare at me. I have no way to cover it up.
« I no longer have feeling from the top of my forehead to the back of my skull.
« It is a constant reminder of what Callum Barlow has done to me. »
« I have seen Callum Barlow since and I am fearful of what he may do, » added the woman.
« You’re still a young man, » Judge Lawton told Barlow, who sat sighing in the dock.
« You’re, in many respects, a very mature young man.
« But these are very serious offences.
« You were 16 when you committed these offences. You were confronted by you’re victim and your reaction was to strike her to the head with an iron bar.
« I have seen the pictures, it’s an appalling injury. Her skull was actually exposed.
« You’re a very, very troubled young man. »
The offender, from Leigh, turned 18 at the end of April, but had to be sentenced as a minor to reflect the age when he committed the crimes, the court was told.
Barlow already has nine convictions for 20 offences. The previous convictions have also been ‘mostly violent’, according to Mr Sastry, including causing actual bodily harm, domestic assault, harassment and affray.
Had Barlow been an adult, the sentenced would have been more severe – not least because of his previous convictions and the serious nature of the violence – said the judge as he was passing sentenced. The charges would have resulted in a minimum term of four years imprisonment.
Instead, the sentence length was decreased by laws surrounding child defendants to two years, reduced further still by the several months Barlow has already spent in custody for the three offences, before his sentencing date arrived.
« You have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, your upbringing was a difficult, unfortunate upbringing, » continued the judge.
« You have channelled that in negative and wrong ways, taking on a lifestyle centred around drugs and violence – which has seen you brutally assaulted yourself.
« Your life is heading in one of two directions.
« You will die a very young man because of the lifestyle you chose to lead, or end up serving a very, very long sentence.
« If you come back to court convicted of any serious offence of violence, the only option will be an extended sentence of imprisonment with the parole board deciding when to release you, with no certain date of release.
« Your 18th birthday is a milestone, not a cliff edge.
« It is time now to try and tread a very different path. »
The teenager was sentenced to three years of a Youth Rehabilitation Order and walked free from court.
Barlow was also made the subject of an indefinite restraining order, keeping him away from the victim and her family.