A former soldier whose career ended after he was the victim of a ‘one-punch’ assault in Hartlepool is backing a campaign to raise awareness of the serious consequences of excessive alcohol or drug misuse.
The campaign, by the Crown Prosecution Service and Cleveland Police, coincides with national Alcohol Awareness Week, which begins today.
Former Lance Corporal Albert Duffy, 27, had to have part of his brain removed after he suffered a fractured skull when he was assaulted by Keith Anderson at a bus stop in Hartlepool town centre in July 2014.
Anderson had already struck out that evening as he approached someone and asked for a cigarette. Angry at only being offered the remainder of a cigarette, he lashed out at the man, leaving him with a fractured cheekbone and other facial injuries.
He was jailed for seven years at Teesside Crown Court in April this year. He was intoxicated with alcohol and drugs at the time of the incident.
Lance Corporal Duffy was left in a coma for two weeks following the attack and still suffers as a result of the incident, which ended his career in the Army.
During his career, Lance Corporal Duffy had survived an explosion from a bomb underneath his vehicle while on the second of three tours of Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Duffy said: “My life has changed beyond recognition. I am no longer the same person. I wish that Keith Anderson had thought about his actions that night. Maybe if he hadn’t been under the influence of drink and drugs then I wouldn’t be in this position now.”
Since 2003, six people have been killed as a result of one-punch assaults in Cleveland, however, there have also been numerous others where victims have survived.
Sergeant Paul Higgins, from Cleveland Police Licensing Unit, said: “These actions are mindless and can devastate a victims’ life, and the lives of those around them, within a split second.
“Alcohol is a factor in a lot of cases that we see where people become the victims of one-punch assaults. The case of Lance Corporal Duffy is a prime example of someone whose life has been turned upside down as a result of an individual who was fuelled by drink and drugs.
“Lance Corporal Duffy had served his country and even survived an explosion in Afghanistan. It is appalling that he was then the victim of this mindless attack which left him so severely injured.
“This campaign aims to raise awareness of the serious consequences of losing control as a result of drinking excessive alcohol or taking drugs.
“Our hope is that it may make someone think twice before having just one more drink. It could be the one thing that prevents a victim from being seriously injuring or even being killed.”