A MAN responsible for a vicious attack outside Accrington Stanley’s football ground has been told he will only be released when he is no longer considered a danger.
Paul Clifford, 36, of Edleston Street, Accrington, admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent at Preston Crown Court.
Judge Robert Brown passed an indefinite sentence for public protection and Clifford will have to serve at least three-and-a-half years before he can be considered for parole.
The court heard that victim Robert Taylor, now 43, was attacked after he intervened in a domestic dispute between Clifford and his partner outside Stanley’s ground.
Only the prompt actions of the club medic Dr Joyce Watson, who was there socialising, saved his life. She was awarded £500 from public funds and commended for her actions by the judge.
Following the assault, Mr Taylor turned blue through lack of oxygen and looked as though he was going to swallow his tongue. He later had to undergo surgery to rebuild his face.
Clifford initially denied the charge but pleaded guilty on the second day of the trial after Mr Taylor had given evidence. At the time of the attack he was on licence for a four-year sentence for GBH.
He has since been recalled to complete that sentence and the new jail term will run alongside it.
The judge told him: “This was an unprovoked attack by you, a ferocious attack and a sustained attack on a man unable to defend himself from an early stage. It was nearly a fatal attack.”
He read from a report which stated that the victim’s injuries were similar to those sustained in a fall from a height or a high-speed road accident.
He had multiple fractures to his cheekbones and upper jaw and a fracture to the eye socket. Plates and plastic grafts were used to reconstruct the bones and if Dr Watson had not been there he would have died on the spot.
Mark Lamberty, prosecuting, told the court that on 7 April Mr Taylor had been to Accrington Stanley when he came across Clifford arguing with his partner.
He remembered going to the couple to remonstrate with Clifford, thinking he was about to attack the woman. He was punched several times and wrestled to the ground. Clifford stamped on his head five times.
Dr Watson, who was in the clubhouse, dashed to Mr Taylor and gave him assistance.
The court heard Clifford had previous convictions for violence, including one for causing grievous bodily harm when he broke his partner’s leg with a cricket bat. He was jailed for four years at Burnley Crown Court in 2003.
Miss Kath Johnson, defending, said Clifford had had a troubled childhood and had been the victim of violence himself.
Dr Watson was in Turkey with a football tour this week and Mr Taylor declined to comment at his home in Rishton.