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‘Bodybuilder thug blinded me with one punch’

HORROR INJURIES ... David Flanagan was left blind in one eye after being punched outside a South Shields bar. The inset picture shows his injuries eight days after the unprovoked attack. Below is thug John Henderson, who was jailed for two years for GBH.

HORROR INJURIES ... David Flanagan was left blind in one eye after being punched outside a South Shields bar. The inset picture shows his injuries eight days after the unprovoked attack. Below is thug John Henderson, who was jailed for two years for GBH.

A DISABLED man who was put in a coma and left blind in one eye by a drunken yob says he still does not know why he was attacked.

David Flanagan underwent seven operations and spent eight days in hospital after a single vicious punch by bodybuilder John Henderson outside Trocaderos bar in South Shields town centre.

As well as losing the sight in his left eye, 57-year-old Mr Flanagan suffered multiple fractures to his face.

He still does not remember the brutal attack but knows it will affect him for the rest of his life.

Former doorman Henderson lashed out with his fist so hard that the blow left his victim unconscious on the ground, where horrified witnesses believed he was dead.

The pair had been in the bar separately on February 19 and Mr Flanagan was waiting for a lift home from a friend when he was assaulted.

Henderson was jailed for two years at Newcastle Crown on Friday after admitting causing grievous bodily harm.

During the hearing, Henderson claimed he lashed out because of an earlier “run-in” in which Mr Flanagan had insulted his mother.

But Mr Flanagan says he never said anything to Henderson and had never met him before in his life.

Henderson admitted during the hearing he had consumed seven or eight pints of alcohol and insisted he wouldn’t have acted the way he died if not for the drink he had consumed.

Mr Flanagan says that, while Henderson could be walking free in a matter of months, he will be left to suffer “for life”.

He walks with a crutch because of previous health issues, had previously suffered a stroke and has heart problems.

Mr Flanagan was taken to South Tyneside District Hospital, where he was put on a ventilator and then transferred to intensive care at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

He later required surgery to fit a series of metal plates and pins to repair the damage to his face.

He also underwent a procedure to reduce the bleeding and swelling behind his left eye, but his sight could not be saved.

Mr Flanagan, of Charnwood Court, South Shields, who has two daughters in their 30s, said: “I don’t feel like justice has been done with this sentence.

“I will be like this for life and, in a few months, he will be out.

“He said I insulted his mother but I didn’t do that. I don’t know why he did it. The police told me I didn’t have to go to court but I wanted to be there to identify him.

“I wanted to see him and know the reason why he did it. But I still don’t know.”

Mr Flanagan also says Henderson only apologised to him from the dock after being prompted to do so by the judge.

Henderson had claimed he was not aware Mr Flanagan walked with the aid of a crutch at the time of the attack, but the judge did not believe his version of events.

He is still adjusting to life without the sight in his left eye.

He said: “It will take a long time to adjust to. I have so much support from my friends, who are my carers, and my mother. I had only had a heart attack six months ago. I have been disabled for 14 years.

“He would have known that I was walking with a crutch. I can’t remember anything of what happened.”

Mr Flanagan praised the “fantastic” efforts of medical staff during his stay in hospital and says he is grateful for the work they did to aid his recovery.

His friend Carl Langley, who is a carer for Mr Flanagan and helps him carry out tasks such as shopping as well as attending Sunderland games, said: “You can see what he looked like eight days after the attack. Imagine what it was like straight after he was punched.

“I know David very well and I know he wouldn’t have said what Henderson claimed.”

Mr Flanagan says he was ‘gutted’ that his injuries meant he missed the Black Cats’ Wembley date with Manchester City in the League Cup final.

But he added: “I was there in 1973 and 1992. I’ve been to all the finals.”

He is now keen to move on with his life following the result of the court case.

He said: “I want to put it all behind me and move on.

“I wouldn’t wish what happened on anyone, not on my worst enemy.”

Twitter@shieldsgazchris

 

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