A “raging bull” thug who threw a single blow which has left a devoted husband in a coma since before Christmas has been put behind bars.
South Shields Velo Cycling Club member Steve Willey, 46, almost died after he was knocked unconscious by Nicholas Graham while waiting at a bus stop with his wife on December 23 last year.
His heartbroken family are still uncertain what the final outcome of the shocking, unprovoked, one-punch attack will be after he suffered a brain injury and fractured skull and required two emergency operations.
Newcastle Crown Court yesterday heard Mr Willey had been in Newcastle collecting his wife Paula from her works Christmas party to ensure she got home safely.
The court heard that Graham, who had been arguing with a former girlfriend, deliberately bumped into Mr Willey, from Washington, and appeared to be “looking for trouble”.
When Mr Willey pointed out that he had done nothing wrong, Graham charged towards him like a “raging bull”.
Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting, told the court Graham struck Mr Willey once to the face and he fell, hitting his head on the pavement.
He said: “Such was the force of the blow, it appears Mr Willey was unconscious before he struck the pavement. Witnesses describe him charging like a raging bull. It was apparent to all present Mr Willey was seriously injured.”
Mr Willey was taken to hospital for life-saving treatment and has not yet regained consciousness.
Graham, 26, of Belsay Gardens, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and breaching the restraining order to stay away from the former girlfriend.
Judge Paul Sloan QC jailed him for a total of three-and-a-half years.
The judge told him: “Mrs Willey is doing what she can to cope with a living nightmare for her and her family. She continues to suffer as a result of your thuggery.”
Jonathan Cousins, defending, said Graham had “no intention whatsoever” of causing the level of injury he did and feels real remorse.
He added: “It is something that will stay with him long after the sentence imposed today has expired.”