A man who knocked his friend unconscious and left him with permanent damage has been jailed.
Graham Hull, 34, fled the scene of his attack despite victim Kirk Wearing being in obvious need of medical attention, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Hull later returned, telling police he had come across Mr Wearing by chance and thought he had been knocked down by a car.
Mr Wearing, 30, was in a coma in hospital for three weeks, and needed a further five weeks of treatment before he could be released.
In a victim personal statement read to the court, Mr Wearing described his anger at the hurt and distress he and his family had suffered.
“I am angry my mother, partner and children had to see me in that way,” he said.
“My partner didn’t want to bring my stepchildren to the hospital, but thought she ought to in case it was the last time they saw me alive.
“After I came out of the coma I was given some mental tests they give to children, I was angry at not being able to complete them, although I did complete them later.
“I couldn’t hold a cup of tea, I’m on 15 tablets a day probably for the rest of my life, and the sight in one of my eyes might be damaged permanently.”
The court heard Hull and Mr Wearing visited the Premier store, in Shrewsbury Street, Hartlepool, where both attempted to steal drink.
Mr Wearing was successful, but Hull was not.
“Hull caught up with Mr Wearing a little way down the street,” said Nicholas Rooke, prosecuting.
“Mr Wearing didn’t have the drink at this point, and it appears there was an argument about that. Hull threw a single punch to Mr Wearing’s head, knocking him to the ground, and knocking him immediately unconscious.”
Hull, of Stockton Road, Hartlepool, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on October 30 last year. He has 91 previous convictions.
Umsa Khan, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Hull is remorseful for what happened. He never intended the harm the single blow caused, but he lost his temper and reacted inappropriately.”
The Recorder, Mr Ben Nolan QC, jailed Hull for 30 months. He was made subject of a restraining order for five years banning him from contacting his victim, and banning him from entering a specified area of Hartlepool.
The recorder told Hull: “It must have been a very heavy punch, causing as it did a fractured skull and putting the victim in a coma.”