A man who left the victim of a two-punch street attack with life-changing injuries is beginning a 40-month prison sentence.

Craig Dalkin appeared to speak briefly to the victim who approached him on Newbottle Street, in Houghton-le-Spring town centre, before throwing a right-hand punch that left him teetering on the edge of the pavement.

He then delivered a further punch with the left hand which knocked the other man to the ground, cracking his head on the road as he fell.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Dalkin then “dismissively” kicked the prone victim on the ground before gratuitously spitting at him.

Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting, said a door supervisor at a nearby pub saw the end of the brief flurry of violence and went to the aid of the injured man.

The defendant remained at the scene, telling the victim to “wake up”, before walking off.

Mr Wardlaw said the victim, a 31-year-old man, suffered a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain in the incident, on the evening of Saturday July 30, last year.The Northern Echo: Craig Dalkin starting 40-month prison sentence for unprovoked street attack

He required urgent surgical intervention and was placed in an induced coma.

When he was woken from the coma some time later he was in a delirious state.

Mr Wardlaw said the victim requires on-going medical intervention and is awaiting the fitting of a titanium plate into his skull, a procedure which in itself could put the complainant at further risk.

The father-of-two requires further rehabilitative care and has lost some cognitive function.

In his victim statement he outlined how he relies on the daily support of his parents as he cannot be left on his own.

He suffers fatigue and a lack of energy and is unable to work anymore or pursue his hobbies of fishing and attending Sunderland football matches.

Dalkin, who was arrested and interviewed the following day, made no comment to police questions, and, when shown cctv footage of the incident, claimed the complainant approached and threatened him, taking a knife from his pocket.

But the 34-year-old defendant, of Thorney Close, Sunderland, was said to no longer stand by that account.

Having denied causing grievous bodily harm with intent, claiming self-defence, a trial date was set for July this year.

But on June 1 he offered a guilty plea to causing grievous bodily harm, which was accepted by the prosecution.

The court heard he has 13 previous convictions for 20 offences, but only two for violence, both of which were said to be now, “of good age”.

Robin Turton, for Dalkin, described the incident as, “a tragedy” for the victim and his family, which the defendant accepts was due to the violence he inflicted.

Mr Turton said the damage was caused essentially by two punches, but Judge Amanda Rippon pointed out that there was also a kick and a spit.

But Mr Turton said it was not a case where there was, “a flurry of punches” as is often seen in the courts.

Mr Turton said the case has had an effect on the defendant as it has led to the breakdown of his relationship with his partner and left him suffering anxiety and depression.

The court heard Dalkin has observed a home curfew awaiting the sentencing hearing, amounting to 233 days’ deduction to the term he spends in custody.

Judge Rippon said the actions of Dalkin have had, “a devastating effect on every aspect of the victim’s life”.

She told Mr Turton: “The defendant was clearly vexed about something which I will probably never get to the bottom of and won’t ever try.”

Judge Rippon told Dalkin: “You have inflicted life-changing and permanent damage on another human being.”

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Referring to disparaging comments posted on social media by the defendant, frustrated not to learn his fate at a previous hearing, Judge Rippon told him: “The only reason you are in trouble and ‘f***ed up’, in your words, is because you punched a man to the ground and destroyed a man’s life and you deserve every single thing that’s coming your way.”

Imposing a 40-month prison sentence, she said it wold have been a four-year sentence had he not pleaded guilty.

She also made a lifetime restraining order forbidding the defendant from approaching or contacting the victim, at the risk of a further prison sentence of up to five years.