A MAN has been left paralysed from the neck down and facing life in a wheelchair after he was punched in the street by drunken yob Samuel Evans, 21.
Matthew Edmonds, 33, is now a tetraplegic with just some limited movement in his arms as a result of the attack, Gloucester crown court heard heard yesterday, Thursday.
Violent Evans was already subject to a suspended jail term for a previous assault when he lashed out at Mr Edmonds, causing him to fall and hit his head on a concrete floor.
The result of the punch was 'devastating' for Mr Edmonds, who worked as an aerospace testing engineer, the court was told.
Mr Edmonds was helped into court in hs wheelchair so he could see Evans, of no fixed address, sentenced to a total of 34 months in jail.
Evans, formerly of Devereux Crescent, Stroud, had admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Edmonds on 26th March this year.
Jailing him for 28 months for the assault and implementing his six months suspended sentence consecutively Judge William Hart told him that the public might view the penalty as 'pathetic.'
But sentencing guidelines did not allow him to pass a longer term for the offence - or one which would truly mark the gravity of the consequences of his actions, the judge said Evans had wriitten a letter to the court saying "I have wrecked Mr Edmonds' life and I hate myself for it."
He added "I have done wrong in my life but I never thought something like this would happen. I am a stupid boy.
"I swear I have changed and I couldn't be more sorry. I have wrote to Mr Edmonds to say sorry and I know he could never forgive me but I truly am 100 percent sorry."
Outside court after the hearing Mr Edmonds, who had been brought to court from the spinal injuries unit at Salisbury Hospital, said he had been hoping Evans would get a longer sentence but he understood the judge's hands were tied.
"I knew Evans had one previous conviction for violence but I didn't realise there were others as well," he said, "He told the court he has written to me but I have never had a letter from him. I thought what he wrote that was read out in court did not sound that genuine - it was just the standard sort of thing you would expect him to say in the circumstances.
"I came to court because I just wanted to draw a line under it all. It was quite hard being in court to hear it all and to see him. But it was something I felt I had to do.
"I am now classed as a tetraplegic, paralysed from the neck down. I do have some limited movement in my arms but that's all, "I was working as a non destructive testing engineer in the aerospace industry. I won;t be able to go back to that work and I shall have to re-evaluate what I am going to do."
Giles Nelson, prosecuting, said Mr Edmonds had been with two friends in Stroud town centre making their way to a taxi rank on March 25th at 3am when they encountered Evans.
"Evans started dancing around Mr Edmonds asking him if he would like to 'bum' him," said Mr Nelson. "He asked him this several times. He was moving around the group and putting his backside towards Mr Edmonds."
Mr Nelson said Evans was clearly trying to provoke a reaction and it was one of Mr Edmonds' friend who did react, leaning over and slapping Edmonds on the back of the head or neck.
Evans then unleashed a punch which floored Mr Edmonds.
"He hit his head on the concrete and the injuries he sustained are absolutely devastating," said Mr Nelson. "He is confined to a wheelchair and is now what his consultant has described as a permanent tetraplegic.
"The consequences of what happened that night are dreadful."
Mr Nelson outlined Evans past convictions including one in 2010 for battery, another in July last year for the same offence and then in August last year for assault causing actual bodily harm when he got a 36 weeks suspended sentence from Judge Hart.
Joe Maloney, defending, read out Evans' letter to the court and said "One hopes he has learnt a very important lesson about the folly of drinking too much, getting involved in this sort of situation and just being as he said in his own words stupid.
"He is genuinely sorry for the pain and anguish he has caused Mr Edmonds. He has had difficulty coming to terms with what he has inflicted on Mr Edmonds. "
Jailing Evans Judge Hart said it was he who had passed the suspended sentence on him last year.
"At that stage it was believed that if given a further chance under supervision you might be able to change your ways. How wrong we were!" said the judge.
Evans clearly had a propensity for getting drunk and being violent in public places, as all his previous offences showed, he said.
"On this dreadful night you were drunk and looking for trouble, as appears to have become your habit. You used offensive and provocative behaviour .
"You then struck a forceful blow to Mr Edmonds,. The consequences for him have been as dramatic as they could be, short of death. It was catastrophic. He is paralysed below the neck and that is a result of what you did."
The judge said the maximum sentence for the offence of unlawful wounding which Evans admitted is five years imprisonment but he was entitled to a reduction for his guilty plea. Many might regard the maximum as 'pathetic' in such circumstances, he added.