A luxury lifestyle manager who broke a woman’s leg in a bizarre attack outside a west London pub must pay the victim £21,000 in compensation after being given a suspended prison sentence.
James Stephenson, 37, stormed outside and knocked journalist May Woods to the ground as she chatted and shared a cigarette with his girlfriend.
Moments before the attack, he was heard shouting “what the hell are you doing”, leaving Mrs Woods on the ground in agony with her leg broken in two places.
The incident outside the Defector’s Weld pub in Shepherd’s Bush was caught on CCTV, showing Stephenson pushing Ms Woods, knocking over his own girlfriend Jo Hunt and throwing himself to the ground.
In the chaotic aftermath, Stephenson, who had been drinking wine that evening, was punched by Ms Wood’s boyfriend Liam before leaving the scene in an Uber.
At Southwark Crown Court on Friday, Mrs Woods revealed in a victim impact statement how she had been left to suffer anxiety, nightmares and ongoing pain and now relies heavily on her partner for day-to-day life.
She said the aftermath of the incident damaged her professional and social life and said she continues to suffer from “shooting pains in her leg (and constant tingling).
“It feels like my leg is on fire all the time,” she said.
“I feel like it’s changed me into a different person and it’s also caused me life-changing injuries.
“After a year I can’t bend my knee, I’m limping and I can’t run.
Jailing Stephenson for nine months, suspended for a year, Recorder Jo Matson said the attack took place “without warning or provocation”.
“There was clearly serious injury and there is a high likelihood that some of those injuries will be sustained,” she said.
But the judge added: “This was clearly an impulsive and short-lived attack which was a single punch and nothing more.
“I admit it was completely off the mark for you.
The judge said Stephenson’s role as carer for his disabled mother was a driving factor in suspending his sentence rather than sending him to prison. She ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service over the next year.
As for compensation, the judge said she was “incredibly suspicious” of Stephenson’s decision to sell his car for £21,000 two days earlier and hand the money over to his partner.
She ordered him to raise money to be given to Mrs Woods as compensation.
Stephenson runs VIP lifestyle management company Tatlocks, which offers invitation-only membership to a “truly discreet service for discerning individuals from around the world”.
In court, his partner, sister and disabled mother supported him during the sentencing.
Sallie Bennett-Jenkins KC, mitigating for Stephenson, revealed his partner is now 21 weeks pregnant with their first child.
She said the attack was an “isolated incident” that lasted just a few seconds and Stephenson “hugely regrets” the injuries he caused.
“He is a gentle, hard-working, devoted son and partner,” Ms Bennett-Jenkins said. “He expressed remorse at all stages.
The incident occurred on December 5, 2021, when Stephenson and Ms Hunt were celebrating a friend’s birthday in a pub while Ms Woods, a magazine editor, watched her friend’s DJ set.
At around 2am she went outside for a cigarette and got into a conversation with Mrs Hunt who was swaying and visibly drunk.
“I was hit from behind, it was a huge surprise,” she says of the moment she was attacked by Stephenson as he ran out of the pub towards them.
“Out of nowhere, I remember someone walking up to me and I remember feeling a screeching sound, a real pressure – crazy hard.
She recalled yelling at Stephenson, “What have you done? Why did you do that?” as her leg paralyzed with pain.
The court heard how Mrs Woods spent more than two hours lying on the ground wrapped in coats to keep warm as she waited for an ambulance which never arrived.
After finally realizing that paramedics weren’t coming, she had to take an Uber to the hospital and needed surgery to repair her tibia and fibula fractures.
While in hospital, Ms Woods publicly appealed for help to catch the attacker, complaining that police were slow to gather evidence, including key CCTV.
“Nothing was done,” she said on Twitter. “Is this a normal timeline? Am I expecting too much – that male violence against women is actually investigated?’
A CCTV image of Stephenson was released by the Met Police and he was arrested ten days later.
He claimed the push was accidental when his foot slipped on rainwater and buckled beneath him, causing him to fall out of the pub and throw his arms out to protect himself.
But the jury rejected his defense and found him guilty of grievous bodily harm.
Stephenson, who lives in South Kensington, told the court he had handed over control of his company and sold shares to pay £67,000 in private legal fees.
He was ordered to pay £21,000 in compensation over the next three months.