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A VIOLENT thug is behind bars today after attacking a family man in a drunken rage at a Sheffield tram stop, leaving him brain damaged.

Mild-mannered Alan Smith, aged 57, was knocked down with a single punch “like a tree being felled” after he tried to calm an altercation between David Sumner and two other men.

His head hit the ground, he was left in a coma, and he needed brain surgery at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. He has been left severely brain damaged, may never walk unaided again, will need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life, and may not recognise his family.

Sumner, 25, of Walden Road, Heeley, was given an indeterminate sentence for public protection and must serve at least five years and three months before he is considered for parole.

Sheffield Crown Court heard brothers Alan and Brian Carnall had been on a night out in Sheffield city centre when they caught the last Halfway tram from the City Hall stop on West Street.

Also on the tram was Mr Smith, from Hackenthorpe, who enjoyed a fortnightly Friday night out in the city and had a ‘nodding acquaintance’ with the brothers.

Sumner got on at Castle Square and lit a cigarette. Alan Carnall, 40, pointed out smoking was not allowed on the tram and became annoyed when Sumner replied that he would do as he pleased.

David Webster, prosecuting, said that when Mr Carnall reported Sumner to the conductor, Sumner became ‘hostile and aggressive’ threatening: “I’m well up for a fight. I’m crazy, I’m insane, once I get going, no-one can stop me. They’ve picked the wrong person tonight.”

Sumner had been due to leave the tram at Spring Street, near the Manor, but instead paid an extra fare to confront and fight the Carnalls, said Mr Webster.

They tried to sneak off the tram at Donetsk Way, Hackenthorpe, but Sumner followed and punched Brian Carnall, 43.

Alan Carnall and Sumner then began to grapple. Sumner knocked over Mr Carnall and kicked him in the head.

Mr Webster told the court: “Sumner was then challenged by Mr Smith in terms such as, ‘Why are you doing this? Why cause all this bother?’ Sumner struck him a single yet forceful blow to the jaw which sent him to the ground like a tree being felled.”

As other people rushed to help, Sumner continued to behave aggressively before running away.

Sumner – who at the time of the attack was subject to a community order for battery after trying to strangle his former girlfriend while drunk – handed himself in to police after seeing details of the attack on television news. He claimed he had been physically sick when he realised what he had done.

Paul O’Shea, defending, said Sumner was from a “perfectly decent, law-abiding family”. “He’s had to admit to himself that he’s destroyed another man’s life and he’s desperately ashamed,” he said.

Sentencing Sumner, Judge Alan Goldsack QC told him: “You have ruined Mr Smith’s life and that of his family and no words of mine and no sentence I pass can ever restore normality to them.”

He added: “This was a particularly serious example of late night, alcohol-fuelled, gratuitous violence on an innocent member of the public. If the courts do not seek to deter such behaviour by lengthy custodial sentences, decent people are put off from going into their city at night.”

Det Sgt Joanne Baines, officer in charge of the case, added: “The family are devastated – this has completely shattered their lives. Mr Smith’s injuries and the impact this has had on the family are some of the worst I’ve seen.”DAD-of-two Alan Smith’s wife Elaine said the family are “relieved” that his attacker has been punished – but told The Star of her torment over her husband’s future.

Mrs Smith said: “I think the judge did the best he could. We are just relieved that the case is over and we have got this result.

“But it doesn’t change what we are facing. We still have such an uncertain, devastating future.”

Mrs Smith, from Hackenthorpe, described her husband as a “very quiet, mild-mannered man” in an emotional appeal days after the attack.

She had previously said it was a “tragedy that he has suffered such horrific injuries in coming to someone’s aid”.

Mr Smith was returning home from meeting a friend in Sheffield city centre when the incident happened last November.

A second man was also arrested in connection with the attack but later released without charge.
Sheffield Star.

From 2007.

A 30-YEAR-OLD man has been jailed for three years after beating his neighbour with a dog bone.

Kelvin Chell, currently of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to wounding Nicholas Brearley with intent to do him grievous bodily harm, on October 22.

Judge Paul Glenn, sitting at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday, jailed him for the attack, which left Mr Brearley needing 36 stitches and with permanent facial scars.

Prosecutor David Bennett told the court that Chell had been celebrating Mr Brearley’s birthday with him and others at Mr Brearley’s flat in Wedgwood Street, Wolstanton.

He said: “Shortly after 9.30pm, the defendant took hold of the complainant’s partner’s breast as she was sat on the sofa.

“She made a joke of it, but Mr Brearley became angry and he and Mr Chell began to argue.

“The partner tried to calm both men down, but then left the flat and went home. Mr Brearley was unaware of this at that stage. The defendant also went back to his flat.

“When the complainant realised his partner had gone, he went to look for her at the defendant’s flat. The pair argued again, and the argument became physical. Mr Brearley was initially the aggressor.”

Mr Bennett said a witness then saw the defendant straddling Mr Brearley as he lay on the floor, and hitting him on the back of the head with a dog bone. He then dragged him on to the landing outside his flat and knocked on a neighbour’s door to show him what he’d done.

The court heard that the force of the blows to the head was so strong that blood was “splattered” on the walls of the flat.

Defending Chell, who has 19 previous convictions for offences including possession of a bladed article, battery and threatening behaviour, Peter Cooper said: “This happened in his home, and it happened most unfortunately after he had done the right thing and withdrawn from the flat where matters had become heated.

“At that point, matters were over and should have remained over.

“After the defendant had been pushed by Mr Brearley, he accepts he lost it and grabbed the nearest thing after Mr Brearley had gone to the floor. It’s a matter of huge regret that he has caused such serious injuries to someone he regarded as a friend.”

Judge Glenn agreed Mr Brearley was the initial aggressor and had entered Chell’s flat uninvited.

He added: “But that does not justify your response.

“You inflicted serious injuries to Mr Brearley. It’s plain from photographs I have seen that he bled heavily and will be left with permanent scars.

“You sat astride him as you hit him, and a witness said she thought you were going to kill him. And you finished off by dragging him to the landing and dumping him there.”

Stoke Sentinel

From January 2009