A young father who broke a friend’s jaw while celebrating at his baby son’s Christening party has been spared jail.
Joshua Little, of Lodge Street, Accrington, was with family and friends at the Sydney Street Working Men’s Club when the incident happened in January this year.
Burnley Crown Court heard friends Jack Doran and Luke McSorley got into an argument during a pool game and when they were separated Little punched Mr Doran in the face after Mr McSorley said ‘hit him’.
Sarah Johnston, prosecuting, said Little threw a single punch at Mr Doran ‘with some force’ and left him with a fractured lower jaw. Mr Doran needed surgery twice to have bars and plates inserted.
Miss Johnston told the court alcohol had been consumed and Little’s actions were ‘either retaliation of what he had seen Mr Doran doing to Mr McSorley or joining in thereafter’.
Father-of-two Little, who had light infantry training with the military when he was 16, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm and was given a six-month jail term, suspended for 12 months with 100 hours’ unpaid work.
Miss Johnston said Little, 23, apologised to Mr Doran over Facebook and it was a ‘genuine expression of remorse’.
In a victim statement Mr Doran, who is a Thai boxer, said he had suffered from stress and been made to feel ‘ostracised’ following the incident ‘principally because of the reaction in the community to making a formal statement of complaint to police’.
Daniel King, defending, said the incident happened after Mr Doran had ‘tapped’ Mr McSorley’s pool cue as he went to take a shot and later ‘ruffled his hair’.
The court heard how Mr McSorley, who has learning difficulties and special needs, had been friends with Little since primary school.
Mr King said there was ‘pushing and shoving’ and when the men were broken up outside Little hit Mr Doran ‘in the heat of the moment’.
He told the court: “The defendant doesn’t use Mr Doran’s behaviour to excuse his own. He reacted disproportionately.
"The reason why people have felt a little bit disgruntled is because there’s no question in everyone’s mind that Mr Doran started the whole incident and one or two people, not the defendant, felt it a little rich he had reported the matter to the police.”
Judge Paul Camp said that Little struck Mr Doran because he ‘felt protective’ of Mr McSorley.
Sentencing, he said: “You are obviously a very decent young man and it is to your credit you have pleaded guilty.
“At your son’s Christening an argument broke out, which had nothing to do with you, and then the complainant was ruffling your friend’s hair.
“You felt protective of him because he has learning difficulties and very stupidly you hit the complainant.
“When you did that I’m sure you never thought for a moment that you were going to break his jaw and that he would have to undergo surgery on two occasions.
“You probably intended to knock him down and give him a bit of a headache.
“I have no doubt at all you were genuinely remorseful and I hope you will try and play a part in getting Mr Doran back into the world he has been living in and not treating him as a pariah because he reported this.
“In truth he had no real option because the hospital would inform the police in any event with an injury like that and whether he wanted to report it or not, there’s not an awful lot that could be done about it.”