Blackburn family hits out at ‘atrocious’ sentence given to attacker

Bernard Holmes, EDL thug with multiple convictions for violence.

Bernard Holmes, EDL thug with multiple convictions for violence.

A FAMILY has hit out at the sentence given to a man who caused ‘catastrophic’ injuries when he threw two punches outside a Blackburn nightspot.

Bernard Holmes, 24, of Coleridge Street, Blackburn, is starting a two-year, four month sentence after admitting grievous bodily harm (GBH) on Sean Baxendale.

But after the case Mr Baxendale’s sister slammed the sentence, saying Holmes, who had previous convictions for common assault and actual bodily, harm, was a ‘dangerous man’ who should have got life.

Holmes threw two punches at Mr Baxendale, 44, outside Bar Ibiza, Mincing Lane, in what the court heard was an unprovoked attack on May 17.

The second strike connected and knocked him out.

Mr Baxendale suffered an extensive skull fracture and had to have bones removed in order to relieve pressure on his brain.

After months in hospital, he was left with a continuing brain injury, often getting confused over simple things.

Once a fit and active man, he had undergone a personality change following the attack, Preston Crown Court was told.

Mr Baxendale’s sister Maggie Garth said the whole family was devastated by the attack.

She said: “His personality has changed. Sean was lively and outgoing. Now he has not got the same patience. He had to learn and talk again.

“He will be living with it for the rest of his life.”

The attack on Mr Baxendale, and the killings of Adam Rogers and Christopher Folkes in Blackburn, prompted his nephew Kirk Bullen to launch the Make Lancashire Safer Campaign.

Maggie said the judge had undermined this battle: “I think the sentence handed out is atrocious and the courts have let us down.

“There are campaigns against violence. How can you can make a town safer if the courts aren’t helping us?

“The sentence has just knocked us all for six. To me, with his previous convictions, you should get life.”

After the case, Detective Constable Mark Cruise said: “This type of incident shows that even one punch can have horrific consequences.”

Holmes had stood trial on a more serious charge of GBH with intent, but a jury had found him not guilty .

The court was told that initially, another man (not the defendant) was seen arguing with Mr Baxendale outside the premises.

Stephen McNally, prosecuting, said that male punched Mr Baxendale to the face.

Holmes then crossed the road and struck out at Mr Baxendale.

A second blow knocked him to the ground, where he lay unconscious, having struck his head with some force as he fell.

Holmes had previous convictions including five acts of common assault and one of actual bodily harm.

Daniel King, defending, said: “The defendant says the extent of Mr Baxendale’s injuries have shocked him, in fact, appalled him.

“He had no intention to cause any serious injury.”

Lancashire Telegraph

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