A man who randomly attacked and punched six people on the San Diego Trolley over a three-month period last year — including a 71-year-old woman — was sentenced Thursday to seven years and four months in state prison.

Commuters use the Green Line. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Paul Gregory Cortez Jr., 29, pleaded guilty last month to battery on a trolley passenger and elder abuse.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Koerber said Cortez would get on the trolley, assault and punch a person on board, then get off at the next possible stop.

A half-dozen separate attacks happened between last Oct. 5 and Dec. 17, the prosecutor said.

The 71-year-old woman who was attacked will no longer ride the trolley.

“I thought it was a nightmare,” the woman told authorities. To the defendant, the woman wrote, “You had no right to do that.”

Deputy Public Defender Joey Super — arguing for a 4-year prison term — said Cortez is now free of drugs and alcohol and is sorry for what he did.

Super said a combination of mental illness and drugs caused her client to act out.

“He is saddened by his actions,” Super told Judge Daniel Link.

Link noted that Cortez’s statements to a probation officer seemed self-serving and that it was unfortunate that the defendant’s mental illness was not addressed earlier.

For whatever reason, Cortez — who has been to prison twice before — just kept attacking people on the trolley, the judge said.

— City News Service