Jail term handed out to Wrexham coma victim’s attacker ‘a disgrace’

Reporter:

Robert Platt

THE family of a Wrexham coma victim wept in a court public gallery yesterday after his attacker was jailed.

Alan Junior Gilmartin, 30, was sent down for two-and-a-half years for the attack on David Morton Thomas, 38, from Johnstown.

After the hearing a family friend blasted the sentence as too lenient.

Mr Thomas’ relatives said they have been living a “never ending nightmare” since their loved one was punched at the Temple Bar, Frodsham Street, Chester, on Friday, March 19.

Prosecuting at Chester Crown Court, Meirion Lewis-Jones said Mr Thomas and his friend John Griffiths had met on a bus and visited a few bars in Chester before ending up in the Temple Bar at about 10.45pm.

Mr Griffiths had expressed concerns about a man, later identified as Gilmartin, who had been staring at him from across the bar.

Mr Lewis-Jones said: “Mr Thomas was smiling and friendly but there was nothing else in the stare to provoke hostility.”

Mr Griffiths left the bar at about 11pm and Mr Thomas, now alone, took a seat on a stool.

The court was told bar worker David McKenna saw Gilmartin go over to the victim, push him and then punch him hard to the left cheek.

Mr Thomas’ head struck the slate floor and he was rendered unconscious.

Initially taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital he was transferred to the specialist head injuries unit based at Walton Hospital in Liverpool.

The court was told he remained “gravely ill” and was now at Wrexham Maelor Hospital under 24-hour nursing care and was fed through a valve in his stomach.

Mr Lewis-Jones added Mr Thomas could not communicate with anyone and had contracted a number of infections, including MRSA, since being treated at the Maelor.

At a previous court hearing Gilmartin, of Sycamore Drive, Lache, Chester, admitted inflicting a single blow to Mr Thomas.

Simon Christie, defending, said: “This is not a day for understanding or forgiveness but he (Gilmartin) wants to express in public his sincere remorse.”

Sentencing him, Judge Nicholas Woodward said: “It was a single blow but the consequences of that blow and fall have been catastrophic.

“Realistically, he has lost his quality of life and it will probably always be extremely poor.

“The effects on Mr Thomas have been devastating, but it is not just the effects on Mr Thomas, but also his fiancee, his family and friends.”

Speaking afterwards, family friend Ian Powell, of Moreton Avenue, Johnstown, said: “How can this sort of sentence be considered justice, it is an absolute disgrace.

“The family members are very hurt by what has happened, they feel totally let down.
David is a good man. To say this sentence is lenient doesn’t begin to describe it. We are all very wound up.”

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