Wigan man, 72, was knocked out in the street by drunk homeless man

A pensioner was knocked unconscious by a drunk homeless man in Wigan town centre after trying to stop his aggressive behaviour, a court heard.

David Collier is behind bars after launching the sudden, unprovoked attack on 72-year-old John Cross in Standishgate last Saturday which has left the victim “traumatised”.

Standishgate, Wigan, where the assault took place

Standishgate, Wigan, where the assault took place

The shocking incident took place when Mr Cross challenged Collier for being loud and aggressive in front of families and young children.

The victim suffered a large gash to the head which required hospital treatment.

In a hearing at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court, Collier, 36 and of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to causing Mr Cross actual bodily harm.

The court heard that, at around 6.30pm, Mr Cross was leaving a pub in Standishgate when he saw Collier in the street.

Wigan and Leigh Courthouse, where the hearing took place

Wigan and Leigh Courthouse, where the hearing took place

The defendant could be heard shouting and swearing at passers by, and appeared to be staggering as he walked.

Aware of the number of families with children still out in Wigan town centre at that time of day, Mr Cross said that he “tried to be a good citizen” by approaching Collier and telling him to “sit down and behave.”

Prosecuting, Tess Kenyon told the bench how Mr Cross said “The next thing I remembered was being in the back of an ambulance.”

Eye witnesses saw Collier shouting and swearing at Mr Cross before landing a single punch to his face, causing him to collapse to the ground and strike his head on the pavement.

Onlookers rushed to the elderly victim’s aid and rang 999 for both police and paramedics.

Meanwhile Collier continued his drunken outbursts towards other members of the public until police officers arrived and arrested him.

Mr Cross suffered a 5ins wound to the back of his skull as a result of striking his head on the pavement, which needed to be glued shut at hospital.

He was left “really shaken up”, “tired and drained” by the attack, Ms Kenyon told the hearing.

Defending, Melissa Fagan told the magistrates how Collier had been homeless for the last 10 years and had been drinking on a daily basis for around 24 years.

On the day of the attack, he had consumed a large amount of cider, and was having an “animated conversation” with a friend when Mr Cross intervened.

She said that Collier “lost his temper” at the intervention and hit the pensioner in the face. But he had not struck Mr Cross with the intention of putting him to the ground, Ms Fagan said.

The assault was not premeditated, prolonged or targeted, the court was told.

Collier appeared in court wearing a grey tracksuit and sporting a grey beard, having spent two days in a police cell following his arrest.

He was jailed for six months and must pay £200 in compensation.

He was told by the chairman of the bench: “The victim is a vulnerable elderly man, who was knocked to the ground unconscious in a public place where families and children were present, and required hospital treatment.

“The victim now appears to be traumatised.”