The sentence of a thug from Blackburn who killed an innocent man with one punch and then bragged about it on social media has been extended following a Court of Appeal hearing.

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 was referred to the Court of Appeal, the highest court in the land, and at a hearing on Thursday (July 20), judges decided to extend the sentence.

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.

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 from 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, 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.

During the Court of Appeal hearing, Lady Justice Macur rejected submissions that Judge Robert Altham, Honorary Recorder of Preston, was unreasonable in his categorisation of Hannan’s offending.

She also rejected submissions that due to Hannan’s previous offending, for which he has convictions for battery and actual bodily harm, he would have known the punch he inflicted on Mr O’Hara would have caused him serious harm or risk of death.

She said: “We are satisfied the blow was forceful and was causative of his death, but we find this would not have been an obvious prospect with the offender.”

However, she said the judge should have uplifted the starting point to reflect Hannan’s previous convictions and told the court they would have imposed a starting point after trial of seven years.

Following credit for his guilty plea, this would have been reduced to six years and four months.

Lady Justice Macur said: “This indicated to us that the judge’s sentence would be described as lenient but not unduly so.

“However, we are satisfied the judge fell into error in the manner he addressed the offender’s antecedence.

“We quash the sentence and impose an extended sentence of 10 years and four months, made up of five years and four months in custody and the remaining five years on extended licence.”

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

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

Commenting following the Court of Appeal hearing, Mr Stephenson said: "I welcome the decision by the Court of Appeal to review and extend the sentence of the killer of my constituent James O'Hara.

"I hope this brings some relief to his grieving parents and family, who have already suffered so much. I want to praise their dignity and tenacity in seeking justice for James."