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Friday, 29 August 2014

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Emergency surgery for woman beaten up by Carlisle man celebrating birthday

A young woman student had her face smashed in by a man who attacked her after getting blind drunk while out in Carlisle celebrating his birthday, the city's Crown Court heard.

Sophie Horne needed an emergency operation to insert a metal plate into her cheek after the attack outside a pizza takeaway on The Crescent in the small hours of one morning last October.

The man who attacked her – fellow university student Jonathon Alan Air – had drunk so much cider while celebrating his 24th birthday that he could remember nothing of the incident.

He admitted he must have been responsible only after being faced with the evidence of witnesses who swore it was him.

Yesterday, Air, of St James Road, Denton Holme, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on his victim.

He was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to do 250 hours unpaid community work and made to pay £1,000 court costs.

He was also made to pay Ms Horne £2,000 compensation – which, the judge decided, was the most he could afford even though she deserved much more.

Prosecutor Becky McGregor told the court the incident happened after Ms Horne – “feeling intoxicated” - left a nightclub with some friends.

Air had been “making advances” to her friend Alice O'Brien, she said, and when he got nowhere with her he transferred his attentions to Ms Horne. When she would not let him have a taste of the drink she was carrying, the court heard, Air knocked it out of her hands, spilling it all over her.

Then he punched her “full on” in the face for no reason, Ms McGregor said, spinning her round 360 degrees before she fell to the ground, hitting her head on the pavement.

The court heard that Ms Horne had surgery at the Royal Victoria hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne to fix a metal plate to prevent her eye socket collapsing.

Ms Horne was unable to eat solid food for a week, missed half a term's university work and needed counselling.

She still did not like going out socially, Ms McGregor said.

In mitigation, defence barrister Keith Thomas said Air was a very respectable young man who had been undone by “the demon drink”.

He said he had never been in court before, though he accepted that in 2007 he had been given a police caution after punching a man in a nightclub.

Mr Thomas said that Air, who is now a process worker with Cavaghan & Gray, had proved his worth by serving in the Territorial Army, with whom he had performed "high risk activities and matters of national security."

He said that though Air could not complain if he were sent to prison, it would not be in the general public interest if he were.

It would not be in Ms Horne's interest either, he said, since he would not be able to pay her compensation if he were in jail.

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