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A VICIOUS thug locked up indefinitely for leaving a man brain damaged in a drunken assault at a Sheffield tram stop has been convicted of another violent attack.

David Sumner, aged 26, was jailed for 12 months after he admitted attacking another man – three months before the assault on family man Alan Smith.

Sumner, of Thornborough Road, Heeley, was jailed indefinitely in March after he was found guilty of attacking 57-year-old Mr Smith at a city tram stop in November 2006.

Mr Smith was left needing 24-hour care after Sumner punched him in a drunken rage when he tried to intervene in a scuffle near the Donetsk Way tramstop.

Sumner was locked up indefinitely for the protection of the public and ordered to serve a minimum term of five years and three months. His minimum term was reduced by appeal judges to four years but he can only be released when he is no longer considered a danger to the public.

Hauled before Sheffield Crown Court again, Sumner admitted affray after he and another man, who has never been caught, confronted a young man on the street and demanded a cigarette. When his girlfriend jumped in front of Sumner, he invited her to fight saying: “Do you want a go?”

The man was pushed to the ground and his rucksack stolen in the attack on Charlotte Road, near St Mary’s Gate in the city centre in August 2006.

Sumner was caught six days later after the couple spotted him in a bar and rang the police.

The court heard he initially denied the attack, claiming he was at home the whole time and putting forward his mother as an alibi.

Jailing Sumner for a year with an extended licence period of two years, Judge Patrick Robertshaw said: “The facts of the present case simply outline that you are indeed a danger. In theory you are eligible for release at the halfway stage but that isn’t going to happen.”

Sheffield Star

From 2007
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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.