A loving son was killed as a result of injuries sustained in a single blow as part of a 25-second encounter with a stranger.

James O'Hara, 45, was a loving son, brother and uncle, killed by an illness he developed as a direct result of a one-punch attack by Blackburn-man Michael Hannan on October 19, 2021.

Francis McEntee, prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, said that James O'Hara had been out at a charity shop on Gisburn Road in Barrowford buying an LP while Hannan, of Tynwald Road, Blackburn,  and his friend Matthew Shackleton had been up the road at the White Bear Inn.

Hannan had two pints and shared a Woo Woo cocktail with Mr Shackleton before they walked back down Gisburn Road.

At the same time, Mr O'Hara was walking in the opposite direction past the pair and a comment was made about somebody ‘growling’.

All three men turned around and walked towards each other with an argument breaking out before Mr O'Hara was knocked to the floor by a single punch by Hannan.

Hannan and Mr Shackleton ran away, leaving a motionless Mr O'Hara on the ground.

Passers-by ran to his aid and Mr O'Hara was taken to hospital where he was treated for a fractured eye socket, fractured nose, fracture through the temporal bone and a fracture to the back of the skull, among other injuries.

Meanwhile, less than two hours after the attack Hannan was taking photos of himself flexing his muscles and sending messages like, ‘I just knocked some guy clean out’, ‘just wiped some c**t cold out’ and that it ‘felt gorgeous’ to feel the bones in someone’s face break, with Mr McEntee describing him as a ‘thug revelling in his own thuggery’.

The injuries sustained led to Mr O'Hara developing acute bacterial meningitis which was his cause of death, which the pathologist said was as a direct result of the injuries sustained in the attack.

Mr O'Hara sent a message to a friend on October 25 before he was found dead at his home four days later. It is believed that Mr O'Hara died on that night between October 25 and 26.

In a victim impact statement from the family, read to the court by Mr O'Hara’s brother Matthew, the family described the pain and anguish they feel following the attack.

The statement said: “We lost our funny, kind and affectionate James in a totally unnecessary and cruel way.

"Hannan chose violence. He used his fist which caused the death of our beloved boy while bragging about the injuries inflicted on James.

“These aren't words of a man acting in self-defence, they are the words of a thug using his fists causing the injuries which caused the death of James.

“We are proud of the man James had become, he has left a massive hole in all our lives.

“We have been handed a life sentence of pain and grief.

“Our family gatherings will never again be filled with laughter but sadness and tears.

“In the words of James’s favourite song ‘there is a light and it never goes out’.”

Mitigating, Bob Sastry said that Hannan will have the time to consider his actions in jail but argued it was not a premeditated assault.

Mr Sastry said that Hannan, 32, was very remorseful and wanted to apologise to Mr O'Hara’s family, who were in court as their son’s killer was sentenced.

Mr Sastry also added that as soon as Hannan was aware the police were looking for him, he handed himself in at the police station and cooperated with police at that stage.

Judge Robert Altham, Honorary Recorder of Preston, said that Hannan, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was a man who boasted about and enjoys violence.

Said: “No sentence I pass can begin to address the profound sense of loss felt by Mr O'Hara’s family.

“Mr O'Hara died as a consequence of acute bacterial meningitis as a direct consequence of the head injuries from this assault.

“Meanwhile, Hannan was boasting about the unlawful and fatal violence he inflicted on Mr O'Hara.

“He took a picture of himself bare chested in a boxing stance.

“The messages sent after the attack show this defendant enjoys violence, he believed causing hurt to people was something to be proud of.”

Hannan, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was jailed for five years and four months.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Haworth-Oates: “My thoughts today are first and foremost with the family and loved ones of James O’Hara.

"They have lost a family member and friend as a result of a needless, unprovoked and vicious assault.

“James O ‘Hara posed no threat whatsoever to Michael Hannan who punched him with such force that he inflicted the injuries that would sadly lead to his death.

"He then went on to disgracefully revel in what he had done and showed no remorse and only accepted his guilt on the day of his trial.”

In a statement Mr O'Hara’s family said: “Tuesday October 19 2021 was the day that a single act of violence by Michael Hannan devastated the lives of our whole family.

"Today he was sentenced to five years in prison which gives us some sort of closure, but we will be forever broken hearted at the cruel and needless way we lost James.

“We would like to thank the police team for their tireless work over the past eighteen months in bringing this case to court.

“Thank you also to friends and family whose love and support have helped us through the darkest of days.

“One thing we can all hold on to is that Jay will never be forgotten because he left us all so much to remember. We will carry those memories in our hearts forever.”