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Man Jailed For Paralysing Claire Hilton, 28

January 6, 2012

A scaffolder who punched a young mother to the floor, leaving her paralysed, in a pub row over a spilt drink has been jailed for more than three-and-a-half years.

Claire Hilton, 28, sat in her wheelchair and cheered as Christopher Towers was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court. Ms Hilton, the mother of an 11-year-old boy, suffered a broken neck and back when she was punched during a night out at the Wheatsheaf pub in Boldon, South Tyneside, in June.

Towers, 24, admitted grievous bodily harm at a previous hearing. He also admitted assaulting a bystander who was trying to help the stricken mother. Recorder John Aitken sentenced him to three years for grievous bodily harm and an extra 30 weeks for assault occasioning actual bodily harm on the bystander.

Towers’ mother Lynn Flaherty, 46, of New Road, Boldon, and his partner Kelly McKone, 30, of Stanhope Road, South Shields, both admitted one charge of assault relating to the same evening – McKone assaulted Ms Hilton and Flaherty attacked another woman. McKone was ordered to carry out 40 hours unpaid work and Flaherty was sentenced to a 12-month supervision order.

Ms Hilton was floored around 150 yards from the Wheatsheaf following a row inside over a spilt £2.80 pint of cider. The ex-telesales worker needed a month in intensive care then treatment in a specialist spinal unit. Since then she has been unable to live with her son Callum.

The row started in the pub around closing time when Towers’ mother Lynn Flaherty, celebrating her 46th birthday, had a drink accidentally spilled on her white dress. Flaherty swore and angrily demanded an apology, and staff in the bar asked her group and Ms Hilton’s to leave. As they walked along, Flaherty’s group were abusive, then Towers stepped in and launched his devastating blow.

Julie Clemitson, prosecuting, said: “He ran over and punched Claire Hilton and she felt it full in the face to the left side of her head. This knocked her over, she hit a wall behind her before falling to the ground. Almost immediately she came round and realised she was paralysed. She felt a tingling sensation and she couldn’t move her legs.”

The impact of the punch then the wall meant her head was “whipped forwards and back” causing the top of her spine to be compressed, the court heard. Even as she was being comforted by a friend, Towers had not finished, the court heard. The attacker punched Hugh Anderson in the face as he sat beside his paralysed friend.

Ms Hilton was taken to South Tyneside District Hospital’s A&E department before being transferred to a specialist spinal unit in Middlesbrough. She was given a tracheotomy to aid her breathing and put on a ventilator and underwent extensive surgery on her back.

A medical assessment carried out last week found that six months after the attack, she has regained some mobility. Ms Hilton still uses a wheelchair for travel outside, she needs help to get in the bath and to put on socks and shoes. Ms Clemitson said: “Claire’s life has been turned upside down, she has to put a lot of effort in, whatever she does.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 7, 2012 10:36 am

    this happend to me!! Thugs caused carnage at party
    Published on Thursday 23 December 2010 16:19

    A GROUP of South Yorkshire thugs viciously attacked a pub landlord and his customers leaving nine people with terrible injuries as they turned a fancy dress birthday party into a scene of ‘Wild West’ carnage.

    Six yobs had been drinking heavily in a quiet market town after a fishing trip when one of the men sexually assaulted two young women, which sparked a dancefloor scuffle which exploded into violence.

    The victims included women dressed as pirates for a surprise birthday bash. One of the ‘pirates’, innocent mum-of-three Lorraine Venning, was savagely punched unconscious trying to defend a landlord.

    He was brutally thumped and kicked on the floor after the brutes had howled a “war cry”. They then set upon other terrified customers striking men and women at random – smashing a plant pot over one local’s head – injuring a total of five women and four men.

    Lorraine was rushed to intensive care and spent eight weeks in hospital. She has been left deaf in one ear and suffers seizures and paralysis due to severe head injuries – while another male victim has lost the sight in one eye.

    The Doncaster gang – boxer Ricky Ellery, aged 25, Gavin Poole, 18, Dean MacAllister, 28, Lewis Curry, 21, Dean Wilkes, 24, and Nathan Bridges, 21, – have now been jailed for transforming the quiet boozer into a “combat zone” which left the village of Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, looking “like a bulldozer had driven through it”.

    Sentencing them at York Crown Court, Judge Stephen Ashurst said: “This is a very bad case of its type and it is rare for the casualty list to be as extensive as this.

    “The violence was really quite dreadful. People were kicked and punched, and while they lay on the floor people who came to their aid were attacked. It was prolonged and vicious.

    “Some victims have suffered life-changing injuries. Mrs Venning in particular is a woman whose life has been turned completely upside down. If groups like you cause mayhem and ruin people’s lives you must take the consequences.”

    Five of the group admitted violent disorder at an earlier hearing while Ellery, of Woodlands Road, was convicted of the same charge after a trial last month.

    Poole, of Ridge Road, Highfields, also pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault.

    Ellery was jailed for three years and nine months. Poole was sentenced to three years in a Young Offenders Institution, while MacAllister, of High Street, Askern, and Curry, of Windmill Balk Lane, were caged for two-and-a-half years.

    Bridges, of Woodlands Road, Woodlands, was imprisoned for two years and nine months.

    Wilkes, of Central Avenue, who was jailed for four years in October for an unrelated charge of possessing cocaine with intent to supply, had an extra year added to his sentence.

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