BREAKING: Thug gets jail time for unprovoked attack at New Year’s

Paul Oakden

Paul Oakden

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A THUG who floored a father-of-two with a single punch which left him fighting for his life in a coma has been sent to prison.

Paul Oakden, 21, received two years and eight months at Doncaster Crown Court today after admitting to the attack on 35-year-old Iain Eldridge, 35, which happened in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

ATTACKED: Iain Eldridge, 36.

ATTACKED: Iain Eldridge, 36.

Mr Eldridge had been in Bawtry enjoying the New Year’s celebrations with his partner. Shortly after midnight the couple were stood outside along Station Road in front of a hairdressers’ salon when Oakden approached and swung at the Auckley dad in an unprovoked attack.

That blow caused Mr Eldridge to fall backwards and hit his head on the pavement leading to a serious brain injury. Oakden then fled the scene.

The family of the victim, who is now recovering at home after being in intensive care at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, released a statement following the court case saying the victim was a “hard-working and honest family man” and that Oakden had ruined their lives.

The statement, which included Mr Eldridge’s partner Julie Darby (pictured), read: “The start of 2012 was mixed with anxiety, fear and uncertainty as to what the year, and possibly the rest of our lives would hold, all because of this man and his inane and thoughtless actions.

Entering Doncaster Crown Court for the sentencing of Paul Oakden l/r DI Rich Partridge, Julie Darby and DCI Steve Whittaker. Picture: Malcolm Billingham D0566MB

Entering Doncaster Crown Court for the sentencing of Paul Oakden l/r DI Rich Partridge, Julie Darby and DCI Steve Whittaker. Picture: Malcolm Billingham D0566MB

“Iain is a hard-working and honest family man who was just out enjoying New Year’s Eve as hundreds of other people were doing, when he was assaulted in a completely unprovoked attack by Oakden.

“There is no other reason as to why he attacked Iain other than he is just a thug who was out to cause trouble. He won’t admit this and continues to lie about the attack, but he knows in his own mind what he’s done and that he has ruined our lives.

“We are satisfied with the sentence given and feel it reflects some of the damage and pain he has caused, and hopefully two years and eight months locked away will teach him a valued lesson.

“Iain’s life will never truly be the same as it was as a result of the injuries inflicted upon him and he may never be able to work again, however we are thankful that he managed to pull through and that we still have him here with us, and we can now try to leave everything in the past and move on with our lives.”

Dressed in a suit and carrying a bag of belongings Oakden, of Kingswood Close in Bawtry, was sentenced for grievous bodily harm at Doncaster Crown Court today.

Det Chf Insp Steve Whittaker, the officer in charge of the case (pictured), said Oakden had showed no remorse for his actions.

He said: “The ferocity of the unprovoked punch left Mr Eldridge with no time to defend himself and in a life-threatening condition for over a month.

“Now at home he is progressing well, however it is a long recovery process he will have to undergo, which will require further operations and the long term prognosis is unknown but totally life-changing for him.

“Oakden has shown no remorse for his actions and from his violent, drunken behaviour, he has created an overwhelming amount of distress and heartache for Mr Eldridge and his family, inparticular his two young children who could have very easily been left without a father because of Oakden’s senseless crime.

“Mr Eldridge was out celebrating New Year’s Eve and could never have expected that his night would end in such a tragic way.

“All people, particularly young men, should think twice before engaging in mindless violence as the consequences can be drastic.

“Thankfully in this instance, Mr Eldridge has pulled through and he and his family can now hopefully put this behind them and try to move forward with their lives, although sadly Mr Eldridge will be left with serious life changing injuries.”