A former squaddie fractured a man’s skull in an attack at a village pub in which the victim was knocked unconscious and suffered a brain haemorrhage.
Sean Wilson, 49, grabbed the 52-year-old victim by the throat and “walked” him backwards, causing him to fall to the ground and bang his head on the stone floor.
The victim lost consciousness after his head hit the ground with a “sickening thud” at the Windmill Inn in Stainsacre, said prosecutor Nicholas Rooke.
The victim, who was named in court, had no recollection of the attack. He woke up in James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough where he spent two months recovering from his devastating injuries.
Wilson, of Summerfield Lane, Stainscacre, was arrested at his home and charged with causing grievous bodily harm, but initially denied the charge on the grounds of self-defence. He ultimately pleaded guilty to GBH without intent on the day of his trial.
The ex-soldier, who had served his country with distinction and worked in Iraq post-discharge, appeared for sentence on Thursday dressed in a smart navy-blue shirt and tie.
Mr Rooke said the victim, who was drunk, had known Wilson for about three years because he was a fellow pub-goer and they would buy drinks for each other from time to time.
The attack happened in the early hours of September 8 last year, when the victim, who had been drinking since the afternoon, went for a cigarette.
“These are his last memories of that day,” said Mr Rooke. “He was in hospital for about seven weeks and put on daily medication. He can no longer drive, which severely affects his work.”
Mr Rooke said the victim, who works as a self-employed tiler and kitchen fitter, had made a deeply-offensive comment about Wilson’s wife just before the attack.
A CT scan showed that the victim - who needed 10 weeks of outpatient treatment following his discharge from hospital - had a blood clot and bruising to his brain. Subsequent tests revealed “ongoing cognitive issues”.
Wilson, who served in the armed forces for 12 years and had an “exemplary” military record, told police he had grabbed the victim by the throat with two hands after being provoked. He then marched him backwards a couple of steps before letting go, causing the victim to stumble and fall.
As bar staff and pub-goers went to the aid of the stricken victim, Wilson walked out of the pub and went home.
The victim said he had suffered memory loss, headaches and speech and concentration difficulties since the attack. He couldn’t even remember his wife and children visiting him in hospital.
He added: “I was very depressed for several months afterwards, aggravated by the fact that I couldn’t work or drive.
“I’ve been a kitchen fitter for five or six years but, in some ways, I’ve had to learn my trade (again) from scratch.”
He also lost his driving licence due to his terrible injuries and had to sell his car after suffering severe financial difficulties due to his work being curtailed.
Sarah Barlow, for Wilson, said that “stellar” character references attested to Wilson being an otherwise “exemplary” character, adding: “It is accepted that (the victim) was abusive and in drink, and made particularly-derogatory comments about the defendant’s wife.”
Recorder Jo Kidd said that despite the “glowing” character references attesting to Wilson’s “chivalry and professionalism”, his behaviour on the day in question was “disgraceful”.
“You were under the influence of alcohol, losing your temper and using your experience in the army and in your job to intimidate and bully (the victim),” she added.
Wilson was given an 18-month prison sentence, but this was suspended for two years because, other than a previous conviction for assault dating back to 1989, he had no record for violence.
He was ordered to pay the victim £12,000 compensation and £4,200 prosecution costs.