A man who carried out a prolonged attack outside a workingmen’s club left his victim lying unconscious in the car park suffering serious facial injuries.

Adam Proud committed the sustained assault, repeatedly punching his victim to the face, as he sat over him on the ground, arising from what was described as, “a minor altercation”.

Durham Crown Court was told staff at Barnard Castle WMC called police to report a group of men fighting in the club car park, shortly after 7.15pm on Friday March 18, 2022.

The Northern Echo: Durham Crown Court heard that sustained attack took place in the car park outside Barnard Castle

Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, said officers arrived at the scene to find the victim lying unconscious on the ground with visible facial injuries.

Members of the public, who went to assist the injured man, had put him in the recovery position.

Mr Cleasby said people at the scene named Proud as the person responsible, giving an account that he and the victim had been initially in a minor altercation.

Proud then assaulted the man, punching him to the ground where he sat astride him, delivering a flurry of further punches until he was rendered unconscious.

There was also said to have been a bite of the victim’s thumb by the defendant.

Although efforts were made to detain Proud at the scene by onlookers, he managed to get away and he was not arrested for two days.

When later spoken to by police, the victim could recall being hit by just the first punch and his only other memory of the incident was having his thumb bitten.

He suffered fractures to his lower eye socket and lower cheek bone, bruising to his face, injuries to the back of the scalp and the bite marks to the thumb.

The injuries could only be treated “conservatively” when the swelling subsided, the court was told.

In his impact statement, the victim said the assault had a “massive” effect on him, having left him self-conscious about his scarring and feeling a lack of confidence when out with friends, and he will no longer go to Barnard Castle, not even when his cricket team plays there.

He said he is always “looking over my shoulder”, when he does go out in case he sees the defendant, who he had not previously known.

Relating to the ongoing effect of his injuries, he said he has suffered with blurred vision and sometimes with “floaters” in his left eye.

He added that he was on the sick, off work for some time after the incident, but has since been able to return.

Proud, 35, of Cleveland Road, Barnard Castle, admitted a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Chris Baker, in mitigation, presented a number of character references to the court on his client’s behalf.

He said Proud has never served a prison sentence and what offending there has been on his record was mainly more than ten to 12 years ago, when he had issues with drug-induced psychosis, for which he has received medication.

Mr Baker said his client, “wasn’t looking for trouble that night”, but had been drinking heavily following a bereavement.

“If he was not so emotionally highly-strung this incident may never have happened.

“I don’t hide away from the fact that drink played a part.

“He would like to apologise to his victim for his behaviour and, if he wasn’t to receive an immediate custodial sentence today, he would be more than willing to pay compensation.

“His drinking has increased due to the stress of these proceedings and it’s clear there’s assistance available for him over his use of alcohol.

“I would submit that the public good in the long-run would be better served by ensuring he doesn’t commit further offences in future rather than sending him to custody, which would be an immediate punishment.”

But Mr Baker said that would impact on his family, for whom he is a bread winner, well-thought of in his skilled job for British Telecom.

The Northern Echo:

Judge Nathan Adams told the defendant: “You had far too much to drink on this occasion, but that does not excuse you for what you did.

“What is clear is you started attacking someone, and when he went to the ground you continued to rain blows upon him to the point he was unconscious.

“He suffered a fractured cheek and has had ongoing issues.

“I see you have previous convictions up to about a decade ago, so you have not troubled the court for some time.

“I have read the character references and it would seem this was out of character offending.

“On balancing that with the prospects of rehabilitation, I feel it’s a case where with proper intervention over your use of alcohol, and because of the effect it would have on your young family and partner, I’m satisfied the appropriate sentence is a suspended sentence order."

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Imposing a nine-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, Judge Adams ordered Proud to undergo 40 rehabilitation activity days working with the Probation Service.

He must also abide by a six-month alcohol treatment requirement and pay £1,200 compensation to his victim within six months.

But the judge said as there was no history between the defendant and the victim, who did not previously know each other, there was no need for a restraining order to be put in place, in this case.