A dad left his friend with serious injuries by hitting him once after drunken “lad banter” turned bitter.
Niall Snell, 25, was on a boozy night out with his pal and a group of friends in a pub when he flew into a fit of rage at jokes being aimed at his mum.
Snell hurled a drink over his victim in the Newcastle bar and the pair ended up in a stand-off, before Snell proceeded to lash out with his left fist.
He was left requiring surgery for a metal plate to be inserted into his eye socket and he still suffers from nerve damage.
University-educated Snell, of Fowler Gardens, in Dunston, Gateshead, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm without intent and has avoided an immediate stint behind bars but was warned of the dangers of one-punch attacks.
Giving him an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, Judge Christopher Prince told him: “People, particularly young people, need to realise that one punch can result in death or serious injury.
“This is an example of how just one punch can lead to serious injury.
“In this case, a perfectly decent and hardworking victim has suffered, in legal terms, grievous bodily harm, and, in modern terms, really serious injury because he was punched once in the face by a friend and work colleague.
“Another man who would be perfectly decent and hardworking is the defendant.
“Had luck been on the side of the victim and the defendant, the blow would have been dodged and not contacted as it did and there would have been minor injury, if that, and, possibly, a handshake, an apology and a hug and they would have made up.”
The judge added: “The message needs to go out to people, do not throw even one punch because, those that do end up in prison and those that are on the receiving end die or suffer really serious injury, as what happened in this case.”
The court heard that Snell and his long-running pal were out drinking with a group of friends in Yates, in Newcastle city centre, on November 24 2019.
Witnesses described the men engaging in “drunken lads’ banter” with them making jokes at each others’ expense.
Barry Robson, prosecuting, said some of the comments were aimed at the Snell’s mother and he asked them to stop.
Mr Robson continued: “Further references were made by the victim about the defendant’s mother and the defendant threw a drink over him, saying “Don’t call my mother a s**g”.
“The victim was angry and went up to the defendant saying “What was that for?”.”
A court heard the pair then ended up in a stand-off before Snell lashed out with his fist and punched the victim in the face.
He immediately felt intense pain and was bleeding from the eye and nose, Mr Robson said.
Snell left the scene while paramedics were called and the victim was taken to hospital.
In a statement, the victim said: “The assault and aftermath had a massive impact on my mental health, which has led to issues with my family.
“My partner was massively impacted due to the burden of looking after me during my recovery.
“My children were affected and very upset by me being hurt.”
The court heard that Snell had no past convictions, was hard-working and lived with his pregnant partner in a stable relationship.
Brian Hegarty, defending, added: “He never intended to cause anything like the serious injuries that he has done.
“The defendant is devastated he’s inflicted such injuries as have been set out.”
Mr Hegarty said Snell was extremely apologetic and was unlikely to appear before a criminal court again.
As well as the suspended sentence, Snell was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
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