Yob left man in coma after brawl at Christening

ATTACK SCENE ... the Sand Dancer pub in South Shields.
ATTACK SCENE ... the Sand Dancer pub in South Shields.

A DAD celebrating his daughter’s baptism punched a victim into a coma as a seafront christening party ended in violence.

Shortly after his daughter was baptised last August, Lee Watling attacked Malcolm Hancock outside the celebration at the Sand Dancer pub in South Shields.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Mr Hancock spent 11 days in hospital, and a CT scan showed he had bruising on the brain.

Gavin Doig, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Hancock had been involved in some trouble inside the seafront bar while the christening was being celebrated.

Violence then flared when he clashed with Watling outside.

Mr Doig said: “Watling overpowered Mr Hancock, threw him to the ground on his back and straddled his chest.

“Mr Hancock is described by some witnesses as being unconscious.

“Watling began to punch him to the head, on numerous occasions, using both fists.”

Judge John Evans told Watling: “It may well be that your day was spoiled. It may well be you were not looking for trouble that day, but once it came your way, you engaged in it with a ferocity which might well have resulted in permanent and very serious injury to Mr Hancock.”

The court heard that Mr Hancock is “making progress” from his injuries, and has been able to go back to playing football and boxing training.

Watling, 29, of Tate Avenue, Durham, admitted causing grievous bodily harm.

John Wilkinson, defending, said Watling lashed out because he had believed his partner was about to be attacked.

Mr Wilkinson said: “What should have been an extremely happy day for all involved ended the way it did. It was his daughter’s christening.

“The defendant had been alerted to the fact that there was trouble.

“The defendant believed his girlfriend had been attacked or was about to be attacked.”

Mr Wilkinson said Watling lashed out during a “momentary loss of temper” and has a lot to lose.

Watling carried out the attack while on bail for his involvement in running a cannabis farm at a property in Broughton Road, South Shields.

His pals Shaun Nicholson, 26, of Wear Court, and Nathan Dadswell, 31, of Crofton Street, both South Shields, were also involved in the drug operation. Police had found a total of 89 cannabis plants growing in the house, rented by Nicholson, during a raid last June.

Dadswell was on a suspended sentence at the time.

All three men admitted conspiracy to produce cannabis.

The trio were each jailed for a total of 15 months.

Judge Evans told them: “The rather sad fact of this case is that each of you come from backgrounds where one might hope you would not find yourself before the court.

“The reality is that each of you, for your own reasons, has chosen this course.”

The court heard that all three men have good work records and career prospects.

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