THE girlfriend of a man left disabled with a brain injury following an unprovoked attack, is delighted that the thug who nearly killed him has been jailed.
Julie Darby, 40, said she was “very, very happy” at Bawtry man Paul Oakden’s sentence of two years eight months.
It is unlikely her 36-year-old boyfriend Iain Eldridge will be able to work again as a gas fitter he was felled by a single punch thrown by Oakden. Mr Eldridge hit his head on the pavement leaving him fighting for his life in a coma.
After the sentencing at Doncaster Crown Court, Julie said: “It couldn’t have gone any better. Oakden is just a thug and I’m glad he’s off the streets and can’t do this to anyone else.”
She was unsure as to what the future held for her partner who is recovering at his Auckley home and who has to wear a helmet and use a wheelchair. He will also have surgery to fit a titanium plate to his skull following emergency operations to drain blood from his brain.
Julie said Iain had “good days and bad days” branding Oakden “scum” after the attack which happened in Bawtry just after midnight on New Year’s Day.
A statement was also read out in the court from Iain who said: “I have suffered mentally and feel afraid to do most things because I might bump my head.
“I get upset a lot and don’t know how I will manage financially. I feel terrible about what has happened.
“I’m a law abiding person and have never harmed anyone. I have never had a fight and to get attacked for no reason is awful.”
A family statement 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.
“Iain is a hardworking and honest family man who was just out enjoying News 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. Hopefully, being locked away will teach him a valued lesson.”
IAIN Eldridge had been out celebrating New Year’s with his girlfriend of four months when thug Paul Oakden struck.
The couple were in Station Road when Oakden, 21, approached them and dealt the blow which would change the pair’s lives forever, before fleeing.
Prosecutor Carl Fitch said the couple had left the Penny Farthing pub in good spirits and Iain’s last memory before waking up in hospital was talking to Julie about spending their lives together.
Julie told police they were laughing when Oakden came towards them “with a face like thunder and a nasty look” and she saw him punch Iain in the face.
Judge Peter Kelson, QC, told Doncaster Crown Court how Oakden had drunk “well over a gallon of alcohol” on New Year’s Eve and got it into his head that the couple were involved in domestic violence.
Defence solicitor Pam Coxon submitted references and a petition signed by dozens in Bawtry saying they had never known Oakden, of Kingswood Close, be aggressive.
It took Oakden another six days afterwards to admit the attack following a national manhunt.
Oakden, who police said showed no remorse, pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm.
Passing sentence the judge, who branded Oakden a coward, said: “Unfortunately, you decided to take the law into your own hands and become the judge and jury. These courts are all too familiar with one-punch manslaughter cases where a punch often leads to the death of another human being.
“This case is a very, very serious case of its kind. You took the law into your own hands and wrecked the life of another human being.”