A man suffered a brain haemorrhage and was told “I hope you die” as he was on the receiving end of two separate attacks while on a night out.
Philip Fletcher also suffered facial injuries and spent four days in hospital as he underwent neurological tests.
Two years on from the incident, his attackers both avoided jail as prosecutors and doctors were unable to prove which one was responsible for causing the bleed on Mr Fletcher’s brain.
Earlier this year, Thomas Moreland, 30 and of Chester Road, Southport, was handed a community order for assault causing actual bodily harm.
And last week, Rochdale man Luke Waterhouse was sentenced for the same offence.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Mr Fletcher, 56, was out in Southport town centre when he was twice attacked, 20 minutes apart. The second time, he was punched to the ground by Waterhouse in a completely unprovoked attack.
Prosecuting, Fiona McNeill told Liverpool Crown Court: “Philip Fletcher had been on a night from about 5.30pm. He had a lot to drink and he visited Beach Bar at 5.30am. He was escorted out by door staff.
“Mr Moreland got out of his car and that was when he assaulted Mr Fletcher.
“At 6.20, Mr Fletcher was at the junction of Hulme Street and Waverley Street when Mr Waterhouse approached him and punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the floor.”
One bouncer working in the area said they had seen Waterhouse, now 21, acting aggressively earlier that night and had also noticed Mr Fletcher’s face appearing swollen prior to the attack by Waterhouse.
CCTV footage played in court showed Mr Fletcher being held up by a friend as he struggles to walk along Waverley Street. Waterhouse then approached in the opposite direction and instantly aimed a punch to his face, knocking him straight down.
Mr McNeill said that the doorman heard Waterhouse exclaim “F***ing good! I hope you die” after knocking his victim down. The comments were also heard by another unnamed witness.
He was identified on Facebook images and arrested but denied attacking anyone when he was interviewed by police. However, he later pleaded guilty when he appeared in court almost two years later.
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Fletcher underwent neurological tests in hospital and a CT scan revealed a possible haemorrhage. He had also suffered cuts to his scalp and bruises on his cheeks and between his eyes,
In a victim statement, he said his recovery took several weeks and the facial injuries caused him embarrassment, particularly as a father.
He added: “I used to like to frequent Southport town centre but after being assaulted by these two males I’ve lost confidence and don’t enjoy going out.”
Defending, Michael Jones said that Waterhouse, who was aged 19 at the time and then had 36 convictions for 71 offences, had since moved to a new area and had turned his life around with the support of a charity which helps vulnerable and homeless people.
Mr Jones stated that the defendant had quit drinking and was much more likely to be rehabilitated in his current circumstances than if he went to prison.
Sentencing, Judge Neil Flewitt QC observed Waterhouse’s large record of criminality which includes violence and public order offences but said he had stayed relatively out of trouble in the past two years.
He also referred to a pre-sentencing report and a letter from the charity which has helped him as he handed Waterhouse a six month sentence suspended for 18 months.
Judge Flewitt said: “I am hugely encouraged by the information in these documents and you ought to be extremely grateful to the people who collated these reports.
“I see a young man where there is a realistic prospect of your rehabilitation and I should give you the chance to turn around your life.”