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Sister of Blackburn violence victim calls for tougher sentences
LAST month the Lancashire Telegraph launched the Consequences campaign to raise awareness of the devastating effects of spontaneous violence. We spoke to the sister of a victim and discovered how the attack changed her brother’s life.
“THE victims get a life sentence. The criminals don’t. Where’s the justice?”
Shaun Baxendale suffered catastrophic and personality changing injuries at the fists of Bernard Holmes outside Blackburn’s Bar Ibiza, Mincing Lane, in May 2009.
In February, Holmes was sentenced to two years, four months after admitting causing griev-ous bodily harm without intent.
Now 44-year-old Shaun’s sister Maggie Garth has backed the Consequences campaign, but said it needed the support of the court system to act as a bigger deterrent.
She said: “My heart goes out to the Rogers family. It could have been us and I wish it wasn’t them.
“They are so brave to be doing what they are doing to try and save other people from being put in their position.
“It’s a very strong thing to do. We are all guilty of thinking ‘it won’t happen to me or my family’. I thought that, but it has.
“If we as parents educate our children more on violence and drink, maybe we can help.”
Maggie, 50, branded 25-year-old Holmes’ sentence for the attack on her younger brother ‘atrocious’, spelling out the lifelong consequences he now has to live with.
“It hurts seeing him now because he’s not the Shaun he used to be.
“He’s got no manners, he can be very aggressive and has a short fuse.
“He used to be very outgoing, had lots of friends and a lot of respect.
"He could just pack a bag, arrive in a town and have friends before the evening was out.
“Nobody has the right to lay a hand on another person, no matter whether drink is involved, it’s no excuse.
“When your son or brother goes out, you expect them to come home, not in a coffin or fighting for life because of some bully boy who just felt like hitting someone that night for no reason.
"The police fought really hard to get Shaun’s case into court and they must feel like they’ve had the stuffing knocked out by that sentence.”
Maggie also criticised the lack of support that Shaun – who remains in Birch Hall Care Home, Darwen – has received, comparing it to the reh-abilitation of criminals by the state.
“We are really frightened of anything happening now. We worry that another hit to the head will kill him.
“But we’re fortunate we’ve got that worry. Other families would probably give anything to have that worry.”
Shaun was a matter of hours away from doctors telling the family to switch off the life support machine when he started breathing on his own.
After a week in hospital, Shaun, a father-of-three, was about to come home when he collapsed with pressure on his brain.
Maggie said experts had since told her if he had made it home, he would have been dead in 20 minutes.
But he now suffers from short-term memory loss and the incident prompted his nephew Kirk Bullen to create the Make Lancashire Safer campaign.
Maggie said: “We stayed away from court because it would have been too difficult to keep quiet hearing that evidence and seeing the CCTV.
“There are too many families being torn apart. It’s sad that when I pick up a paper I’m not shocked any more.
“If these people knew that they would receive a lengthy sentence, that would be a proper deterrent.”
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