8:00am Saturday 18th August 2012
By Bruce Unwin
A MAN was left with serious long-term brain injuries after being knocked unconscious by a former friend.
Andrew Dodds, 34, who landed the fateful blow on John Eccles outside Decades nightclub, in Front Street, Consett , County Durham, was yesterday jailed for three years.
Durham Crown Court heard that the pair were friends for two decades until Mr Eccles’ partner of seven years, and the mother of his three-year-old daughter, left him for Dodds earlier this year.
Glenn Gatland, prosecuting, said it led to animosity between the pair, with threatening texts in which Dodds indicated he wanted to fight Mr Eccles.
Both were out in separate company in Consett town centre on the night of April 28-29.
Mr Gatland said that as Dodds left Decades with his partner shortly after 2am, they passed Mr Eccles and words were exchanged.
It seemed to have reached an amicable conclusion when Dodds became annoyed at a parting remark made by Mr Eccles, turned back and kicked him in the back of the leg.
As Mr Eccles was spun round Dodds punched him in the face, causing him to fall backwards, striking his head off a wall.
He fell unconscious on the pavement as Dodds was detained at the scene by nightclub doorstaff.
Mr Eccles was treated for heavy bleeding on the brain and remained in intensive care in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for some time after the incident.
Mr Gatland said his family was warned three times on the night of the attack that his life support machine may be switched off.
The 34-year-old part-time sports centre manager remains in a rehabilitation unit, having had part of his skull removed to which a metal plate has been fitted.
He suffers a speech impediment, partial paralysis on his right side and receives therapy to help him restore daily body functioning.
Dodds, of Drover Terrace, Castleside, near Consett, admitted unlawful wounding.
The court heard his previous record includes five offences of violence.
Lewis Kerr, mitigating, said he made immediate admissions on arrest and was sorrowful and concerned for his former friend from the outset.
“It was a single blow which he said was intended to give him a fat lip.
“The injury that was caused could never have been envisaged.”
Jailing him, Recorder Patrick Palmer told Dodds: “It’s clear there was ill-feeling which spilled over that night leaving Mr Eccles with this traumatic brain injury.”
He added that Dodds’ previous record for violence was, an aggravating feature of the case.
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