Man awarded £2,500 in damages after having jaw broken in derby day brawl

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A judge has warned revellers that a single punch can kill after a man’s jaw was broken with one blow in a derby day attack.

Craig Smith was knocked out by Declan Chase’s forceful punch, which caused him cuts to his head and nose and a fractured jaw that needed surgery to have a plate fitted.

The 19-year-old victim suffered pain, loss of confidence and had to cancel upcoming birthday plans due to what happened to him in Sunderland centre after the city’s team beat rivals Newcastle 3-0 on February 1.

At Newcastle Crown Court Judge Penny Moreland, who was able to watch the attack on cctv, said Mr Smith was lucky not to have lost his life and issued a warning to others to think before they lash out.

The judge said: “What we see on cctv is the kind of footage you often see in manslaughter cases, a single punch which knocks someone to the ground, causing them to hit their head. It is frequently a cause of death. If the defendant did not know that until today, he needs to understand, a single punch can kill.”

The judge said single blows with a fist can lead to death and said Chase should remember that “if you are ever tempted to throw a punch again.”

Chase of Meadow View, East Rainton, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm. The court heard the 20-year-old had lashed out after earlier trouble between their groups of friends. Chase told police he thought Mr Smith had been about to punch one of his group so had stepped in to stop it.

But prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court: “We say the footage shows Smith was turning away from the male and was therefore no threat at that point.”

Mr Smith was left with a three-and-a-half centimetre cut to his right eye area, a cut to the bridge of his nose and a fractured jaw.

Yvonne Taylor, defending, said Chase has never been in trouble or even been spoken to by the police before and is of “exemplary character”. Miss Taylor said Chase, who works full-time, feels remorse and great shame for what he did and for letting his family down.

He was handed a ten month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £2,500 in compensation.#####

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