A BUS passenger has been found guilty of attacking a teacher who was trying to help police curb anti-social behaviour in Teignmouth.
John Phillips misread the situation when he looked out of a top deck window and saw local resident Gregory Bushnell confronting a group of teenaged boys.
He did not know that the youths were part of a gang which had been pestering Mr Bushnell for weeks by banging on his front door or windows and then running away.
Mr Bushnell, who works as a teacher, had complained to police and been told he should try to get photographs of the culprits. He was attacked after following a group of them down Bank Street into Regent Street with his phone in his hand.
Phillips was captured on CCTV doing a double-take as he looked out the window and then rushing off the bus and approaching Mr Bushnell before attacking him.
He claimed he was acting to protect the youths and in self defence, but the footage showed that he was the aggressor throughout and used the situation to launch an unprovoked attack on Mr Bushnell, who was standing with his partner, who had followed him to the scene.
She was seen looking on in horror as Phillips knocked Mr Bushnell to the ground twice, leaving him with a ruptured right eye, an injury which will impair his eyesight for the rest of his life.
He already had limited vision in his left eye and has needed an operation to improve it and compensate for the damage to his right eye.
The CCTV showed Phillips punching Mr Bushnell at a time when he posed no threat to him and then knocking him down twice when the victim tried to fight back.
He punched him at least twice in the face, bit him on the shoulder and face, and kicked him as he lay helpless on the ground. Phillips had no injuries when he was arrested and taken off the bus by police.
Phillips, aged 44, of Apple Tree Close, Chudleigh Knighton, denies assault causing grievous bodily harm.
Judge Anna Richardson adjourned sentence until June 5, ordered a probation pre-sentence report, and released him on bail. She said all sentencing options remain open.
Mr Paul Grumbar, defending, said Phillips had stayed out of trouble for several years and would benefit from a report which may suggest alternatives to immediate custody.
During a four-day trial Mr Bushnell said he had suffered weeks of anti-social behaviour by a group of youths and that on the afternoon of April 5, 2021, heard loud knocking on his door.
He left home with his phone to try to find and film the youths but when he reached WH Smith in Regent Street a couple of them stopped and accused him of being a paedophile because he was trying to film them.
Phillips was on his was to go fishing in Dawlish when he saw the confrontation and decided to get involved. He knocked Mr Bushnell reeling with a punch to his face and then carried on the attack when he got up and raised his hands to try to ward off further blows.
The assault ended with Phillips landing a hard blow to the other man’s eye and then walking back to the bus. The police had been called and the bus remained stationary outside WH Smith until officers went aboard to arrest him.
Phillips told the court he acted initially to protect the boys from what he saw as bullying and then protected himself from an anticipated attack by the other man, who he described as being angry and aggressive.
He said he bit Mr Bushnell because he grabbed his genitals as they wrestled on the ground.