Legal high thug gave man brain damage with one punch

Thomas Wood

Thomas Wood

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A 31-year-old man who beat another man unconscious leaving him for dead in the street has been jailed.

Thomas Wood, who had taken a legal high before the incident, floored victim Brendan McNicholas with a single blow as he had allegedly been threatening his brother. A court heard that the attack left the victim with brain damage.

Mr McNicholas, 39, who was drunk after a pub crawl with work friends in Wigan, had to undergo emergency surgery to remove part of his skull to relieve pressure following bleeding on his brain, and was placed on a life-support machine.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that he was kept in hospital for five weeks after the March 16 attack and medics are still unsure as to his prognosis but it is feared he will be at risk of having seizures.

Police appealed for witnesses just hours after the attack when Mr McNicholas was found collapsed near Kwik Fit on Wallgate.

Jailing Wood, of no fixed address, for 20 months, Recorder of Liverpool Judge Clement Goldstone QC pointed out that the assault happened shortly after he had been freed from prison for burglary.

Wood, who has previous convictions for violence, pleaded guilty to wounding on the basis that the victim had been drunk and aggressive and threatening Wood’s brother.

“That is all very well but of course you knew he was drunk. At the time you were, if not drunk, certainly affected by a legal high which you knew you should not have been taking because you were taking medication for depression and anxiety.

“You could and should, as well you know, have simply walked away but you did not. You landed a heavy punch on the hapless Mr McNicholas and he was knocked out.”

The judge said that he accepted that Wood had not gone looking for trouble “but you chose with one punch to flatten him and nearly, albeit unintentionally, cost him his life.”

Frank Dillon, prosecuting, said that Mr McNicholas had been out drinking with friends for a belated Christmas night out and they ended up outside The Boulevard club in Wigan town centre.

While they were waiting for a taxi home Mr McNicholas suddenly ran off towards Wigan Pier and at the Saddle junction roundabout he encountered the Wood brothers.

After Thomas Wood knocked him out he then tried to rouse him and after failing to do so his brother called the emergency services. When they arrived soon afterwards it was claimed they had just come across him unconscious and they were not detained.

However after it became apparent Mr McNicholas had suffered a blow and not just fallen, inquires began and Wood was arrested and gave “an erratic and irrational interview,” said Mr Dillon.

Tom Watson, defending, said that Wood had a “deeply troubling and unstable background” and he had largely lived without a home in his adult life after attending a boarding school for children with behavioural difficulties.

His only real relationship was with his brother and he only saw him occasionally. He has worked and is now work-shy and has done various courses while in prison. His problems stem from not having a fixed address, said Mr Watson.

He is sorry for what happened to the victim which had not been intended, he added.