A GOOD Samaritan who saved the life of a victim of a brutal assault has received a written commendation from a top police chief for his quick-thinking actions.
Lee Whitehead, 24, came to the aid of Baxenden man Andrew Rishton, who had been left for dead with a fractured skull after he was punched outside an Accrington taxi office at 4am on 1 November last year.
Christopher Drinkwater, 22, of Cedar Street, Accrington, has since pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm and is facing a jail term.
Martial arts teacher Lee was the only one of numerous bystanders to help Andrew, who was "fitting" on the ground, by clearing his airways, putting him in the recovery position and placing a jumper under his head.
He has been presented with a certificate from Divisional Commander, Chief Superint-endent Andy Rhodes.
Detective Inspector Andy Hulme, of Blackburn CID, said: "These quick-thinking actions, while straightforward to most people, were carried out in difficult surroundings and almost certainly resulted in saving Andrew Rishton’s life."
Lee, of Clifton Avenue, Accrington, came forward after Andrew’s family put an appeal in the Observer asking for him to get in touch so they could thank him.
He said: "The certificate is a nice thing for someone to get but I feel I only did what other people would have done. I gave first aid, phoned the ambulance and got rid of the blood that was in his mouth."
Fitness enthusiast Andrew, 29, said: "I spoke to Lee on the phone when I came out of hospital because I was housebound, but I have also bumped into him in town once. I said to Lee I pretty much owe him my life. He put me in the recovery position when I had bleeding on the brain. Without him it could have been worse."
Andrew, of Ashworth Street, is hoping to make a full recovery and recently returned to full-time work at Altham furniture firm Senator.
He added: "I’ve got to have brain scans every few months. I’m not 100 per cent and the symptoms of dizziness could maybe last for the next year but apart from that I’m good. I’m well enough to go running on my own again without the fear of blackouts."
A Blackburn Rovers season ticket holder, Andrew was thrilled when school friend and Rovers midfielder David Dunn came to visit him in hospital.
He said: "I woke up and he was there, and I really did appreciate that. He stayed for up to an hour, brought me a signed shirt and really perked me up. I’d also like to thank my family and friends who have rallied round and come to see me."
Andrew’s dad Ken said: "He is far better than I ever imagined when I saw him that day. It is every parent’s worst nightmare when you get a knock on the door in the early morning and are taken to the hospital where your son is unconscious. I was so grateful to Lee because it could have been a far more serious situation if he wasn’t there."
He added: "A lot of people my age feel that Accrington is a no-go area."
Burnley Crown Court was told Drinkwater accepted punching Andrew once and it was not in lawful self-defence.
Martin Hackett, the defendant’s barrister, told the hearing: "There was some form of exchange of words between the two men before the incident. The situation developed into an altercation. He accepts the unlawful violence. He accepts the complainant fell and sustained serious injuries."
Recorder Karen Brody told Drinkwater it must have been a very hard punch, and bailed him until 8 June for a pre-sentence report.
She added: "You know it’s very likely that a custodial sentence will be imposed."