A sentence of a thug from Blackburn who killed a man with one punch and then bragged about it on social media has been referred to the Court of Appeal.

Michael Hannan, 32, of Tynwald Road, Blackburn, was jailed on April 27 after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of James O’Hara in a one-punch attack in Gisburn Road, Barrowford, on October 19, 2021.

Hannan’s sentence of five years and four months was referred to the Attorney General’s Office under the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme.

After considering the case, it has been referred to the Court of Appeal, the highest court in the land.

There, judges will either extend the sentence, leave it the same, or could throw the case out without even hearing it.

Hannan and a friend had been drinking in the White Bear Inn prior to walking past Mr O’Hara, 45, who had just bought a record from a nearby charity shop, in a chance meeting.

Lancashire Telegraph: James O'HaraJames O'Hara

As the men passed, Hannan and his pal made a comment about somebody ‘growling’, leading to an argument breaking out.

Mr O'Hara was then knocked to the floor by a single punch by Hannan, with the attacker and his friend running off, 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.

His injuries lead to him developing acute bacterial meningitis, which was his cause of death four days later, which the pathologist said was as a direct result of the injuries sustained in the attack.

Meanwhile, less than two hours after the attack Hannan was taking photos of himself in a boxing stance and 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.

He was described in court as a ‘thug revelling in his own thuggery’ and ‘someone who enjoys violence, and believed causing hurt to people was something to be proud of’, and has previous convictions for serious violence.

In his mitigation, the court was told he was very remorseful and wanted to apologise to Mr O'Hara’s family, and as soon as he heard police were looking for him he handed himself in.

Anyone can make a referral to the Attorney General under the ULSS, and numerous people asked for this case to be reviewed. 

Lancashire Telegraph: Pendle MP Andrew StephensonPendle MP Andrew Stephenson (Image: Parliament)

One person who did was Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson. He said: "Hannan, who had travelled from outside our area to drink that day, has a disturbing and escalating record of violent offending.

"I am deeply troubled a man with this background, being sentenced for the manslaughter of a total stranger, should be sentenced to a mere five years and four months.”

In response to Mr Stephenson, Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson MP said: "I can only properly refer a case to the Court of Appeal if I consider the sentence appears not just lenient, but unduly lenient.

"After careful consideration I have decided to refer this case to the Court of Appeal, as it appears to me that this test is met."

Mr Stephenson added: "I however hope the Court of Appeal, will reflect on the facts of the case and the significant public outcry such a short sentence has provoked."