A woman was dangled on a fifth floor balcony after being lured to a tower block by two violent men who terrorised her for several hours.

Ewan Gaylard and Declan O'Neill went out into the streets looking for someone to abuse, police believe.

Despite their relatively young ages both were serial criminals and were out celebrating Gaylard's release from prison earlier that day.

They found their victim in a woman they met outside a Bargain Booze.  She was homeless and alcohol dependent after a life marred by personal tragedy.

Ewan Gaylard's flat was the scene of an awful crime

She had never met Gaylard and O'Neill before, but they engaged her in small talk and invited her to a flat for a drink.

The events that followed that initial encounter - at around 9pm, February 19, on Ripponden Road, Oldham - would leave the woman physically and mentally scarred.

After buying brandy the pair took the woman, who is in her late thirties, to Gaylard's fifth floor flat at Littlemoor House, Huddersfield Road, Oldham.

There, O'Neill and Gaylard plied her with drink and took cocaine.

They made advances - a hand on her knee, and an attempt to kiss her, becoming violent when she resisted.

Declan O'Neill, 22, has admitted GBH

Det Sgt Pete Morley of Greater Manchester Police said: "At one point she went onto the balcony with the intention of screaming for help.

"The defendants followed her and one said 'I'm going to f...ing kill you'.

"He lifted her legs up as if to throw her over the balcony. They were about halfway up the building and it would have been a 60ft drop to the ground.

"She grabbed hold of the railing and was then grabbed by the hair and pulled back into the flat.

"She was then punched, slashed with a piece of a broken mirror, and both defendants punched and kicked her over all her body."

It was O'Neill who slashed the victim's face, 'slicing her cheek completely through'.

Ewan Gaylard, grey jogging bottoms, and Declan O'Neill, black hood, leave Littlemoor House in Oldham on the night they brutally attacked a woman in Gaylard's flat

The wound required 13 stitches and it's feared she will be permanently disfigured.

She was punched in the face so hard her nose 'completely collapsed' and she was also threatened with acid.

Her ordeal ended around 1am, when the pair said they were going to buy cleaning materials and left the flat.

Naked and bleeding, she was taken in by a stranger whose home she knocked on pleading for help.

Det Sgt Morley said: "Things could have gone very differently if the person who answered her knock had not done the morally right thing and let her in and called the emergency services."

As a result of the neighbour helping the victim, police were on the scene soon afterwards.

From speaking to her they identified Littlemoor House as the place where she had been attacked.

A uniformed PC spotted O'Neill and Gaylard loitering outside the block. They ran off but threw a plastic bag away as they did so.

This bag was recovered by police and inside was clothing believed to belong to the victim, and a pair of glasses. A shard of mirror was found near to the bag.

"If the member of the public had not taken the victim in and called police, this crucial evidence could potentially have been lost," said Det Sgt Morley.

The evidence led them to Gaylard's flat. Inside, a 'poor attempt' had been made to clean up the scene, with a blood stained sponge in the sink.

Littlemoor House, Oldham

In a bizarre twist, the victim came face to face with O'Neill two days later.

She was being escorted by police to a medical appointment in Oldham, and when she was leaving a group of men walked past her and the officers.

O'Neill, who has 10 convictions for 24 previous offences including battery and assault, was in the group and spoke to one of the officers. The victim told them he was one of the two people that had attacked her and he was arrested on the spot.

Gaylard, who has 16 convictions for 23 offences, was tracked down to the home of a relative.

When police arrived he fled barefoot through Greenacres Cemetery in Oldham before being brought down by uniformed officers.

Now Gaylard, 20, and O'Neill, 22, are both behind bars after being sentenced on Friday at Minshull Street Crown Court.

Gaylard has admitted unlawful wounding of the victim and O'Neill wounding with intent.

Rape charges were also left to lie on file for both defendants.

Minshull Street Crown Court.

Mark Fireman, defending O'Neill, said it was to his client's 'significant credit' that he had admitted slashing the victim with the shard of glass, when she had initially accused Gaylard of the offence.

He added: "He chose to admit what he had done and accept responsbility.

"Despite his record he is not without merit. He is a qualified barber. He has two young children from a previous relationship.

"He is a young man who is resigned to a significant sentence and accepts that he deserves punishing for what he did."

Judge Paul Lawton described the attack as 'very disturbed' adding both Gaylard and O'Neill were 'quite clearly already under the influence' when they met their victim.

He said: "This was an appallingly brutal and sustained assault.

"[The victim] was punched repeatedly with such force to break her nose.

"The photos of her injuries are such that she is unrecognisable as a human being."

 

O'Neill, who was also convicted of a separate count of robbery, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with an extended licence period of two years.

Gaylard was jailed for two years.

Det Sgt Morley said: "It is clear that this was a premeditated decision to target a vulnerable woman, and to take her to a place that is isolated, where they could torture and leave her in a state where she genuinely felt she was going to be killed.

"They have not only inflicted mental trauma, but every time she sees her reflection in the mirror she will be reminded of that night.

"Neither of these men have tried to take responsibility for their actions or show any remorse. Each pose a a very real threat to the public."

The court heard the victim 'does not believe she will ever get past' the attack.

She's been left so badly traumatised she has moved away from the region and has been supported by agencies in finding a place to live and recover from her ordeal.


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