South Shields bodybuilder jailed after blinding man with one punch


A BODYBUILDER from South Tyneside left a stroke victim in a coma and blind in one eye, with a single blow.

John Henderson, has been jailed for two years for an attack on David Flanagan, 57, who suffered multiple fractures to his face and will never regain the sight in his left eye.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Mr Flanagan was already in poor health and walked with a stick after suffering a stroke and heart problems when he was attacked by gym enthusiast Henderson, 33, outside Trocaderos bar in South Shields town centre.

Both men had been in the bar separately on February 19, but, when they got outside, 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 court heard Henderson, of Hyde Street, South Shields, was wearing a T-shirt at the time with the logo “Bad boy – first in a fight”.

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 plates and pins to repair the damage to his face.

Henderson admitted causing grievous bodily harm.

Emma Dowling, prosecuting, told the court “Mr Flanagan had a number of fractures to his face.

“He was taken to surgery and had the fractures fixed under general anaesthetic.

“He has plates and pins in his face.”

The court heard Mr Flanagan also underwent a procedure to reduce the bleeding and swelling behind his left eye but his sight could not be saved.

Miss Dowling said: “He has been told, and I think has found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that the very limited eyesight he has is not going to improve.”

The court heard Mr Flanagan remembers nothing about the actual blow he suffered.

He now struggles to get around and told police he keeps bumping into things and knocking things over.

Mr Flanagan told police: “The person responsible is of muscular build, half my age, six foot in height. There was only ever going to be one victim and that’s me.”

Henderson told the court he lashed out because of an earlier “run-in” when Mr Flanagan insulted his mother.

Henderson told the court he over-reacted when he saw Mr Flanagan again, after drinking seven or eight pints.

He said: “I’m someone who normally goes to the gym six or seven days a week, I’m not really a drinker. It is upsetting for me, what I put this guy through.

“A small punch like that. I never dreamt in a million years he would have anything wrong with his eye.

“I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, it is terrible what has happened and obviously I’m responsible for it.”

He added: “I have made a big mistake and I know I have. If I hadn’t had a drink, I would have known better. I would not have reacted like that.”

Henderson also made an apology to Mr Flanagan from the witness box.

He said: “I am very sorry, very remorseful for what has happened. I feel terrible and just wish I could turn the clock back. That’s all I wish I could do, but I can’t.”

Mr Recorder Simon Hirst jailed Henderson for two years.

The judge told him: “These are the sort of blows that kill people. That is why this sort of behaviour is unacceptable.”