Teenager avoids jail after jaw breaking blow

The Sun Inn, outside which the attack took place
The Sun Inn, outside which the attack took place

A “ludicrously stupid” 18-year-old Scarbrough man has escaped an immediate jail sentence despite admitting having broken a man’s jaw in an unprovoked attack.

York Crown Court heard how the victim was felled “like a sack of potatoes” by the single, hard punch delivered by Christopher McLachlan in the town centre in the early hours of February 11, this year.

Two groups of young men had ended up outside The Sun public house and a discussion took place, McLachlan delivering the blow without warning, said Helen Wheatley, prosecuting.

As he left the scene McLachlan was seen shaking hands with two of his friends, before diving for cover under a parked van we he saw a police vehicle approaching.

The court heard an officer had to coax McLachlan from beneath the vehicle, but began struggling, the icy conditions causing both men to fall to the ground grappling with each other.

Miss Wheatley said that, as a result of the incident, the 24-year-old victim suffered a broken lower jaw and a wisdom tooth broken in two places, having been knocked unconscious for around one minute by the blow.

McLachlan, of Cross Lane, originally claimed the police had been “heavy handed”, but eventually admitted what he had done, appearing before the court for sentencing on admitted charges of wounding and assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty.

David Dixon, mitigating said that his client had been “ludicrously stupid” on that night, having drunk to excess.

Adding that his client had just delivered a punch from nowhere, but one with force, Mr Dixon said that his client was full of remorse.

Asking the court for a chance for his client and for him not to be sent into custody, Mr Dixon said McLachlan was one week away from gaining a qualification in joinery and, by “acting foolishly” on that night, had put it all at risk.

Mr Dixon said that McLachlan’s mother had told him how difficult it was for her to be proud of him after what he had done, something which was of concern to him.

Passing sentence, The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, told McLachlan that he had been “very much on a knife edge” for what he had done, coming very close to an immediate custodial sentence.

McLachlan was sentenced to 12 months in a Young Offenders Institute, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.

The judge said that he was not making a compensation order in favour of Mr Chapman, because the figure he could direct would be “derisory” for a blameless victim.

He said that Mr Chapman should instead be encouraged to approach the Criminal Injuries Board.