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One-punch Carlisle attacker who caused catastrophic brain injury is jailed

Robert Lawless

A MAN has been jailed for a drunken one-punch Carlisle attack which left his victim with a catastrophic brain injury.

The city’s crown court heard today (THURS) how 21-year-old Robert Lawless caught Derek Broughton off-guard with a powerful and unexpected uppercut to the face as they chatted at Robert Street, off Crown Street, just before 5am on June 8 after meeting for the first time that night.

The scene of the attack at Robert Street, Carlisle

CCTV captured the shocking attack on Mr Broughton, aged 55, who fell backwards and struck his head. A passer-by alerted by Lawless found Mr Broughton in a pool of blood. He suffered a life-threatening bleed on the brain, and was swiftly transferred from Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary for specialist hospital treatment in Newcastle, where a section of his skull was removed during surgery to relieve swelling.

In a victim impact statement, his wife of three decades Myra Rose Broughton described a very slow subsequent recovery during which he had suffered speech problems, fatigue and confusion, and required full-time care.

“Once such a huge centre of attention and loudest of them all, Derek is no longer that person,” said “devastated” Mrs Broughton. “I massively miss the man I met. The kids have lost the dad they knew.”

She added: “I can’t believe how one punch could have taken Derek away from us all.”

Lawless, of Oaklands Drive, Carlisle, admitted grievous bodily harm, and was said to have expressed “genuine apology and remorse”. He was jailed for 32 months.

“The violence you did to him was truly life-changing,” said Judge James Adkin. “The impact on Derek and his family has been enormous. Their world has been torn apart by your cowardly, thuggish behaviour.”

T/ Detective Superintendent Helen Harkins said: “People need to understand that a single punch has the potential to kill.

“In this instance, this one-punch assault caused traumatic brain injuries which could easily have proved fatal if not for the swift and effective work of medical professionals.

“However, the result of this single moment of violence is a victim who has suffered injuries which could potentially impact the rest of his life and an offender who will now serve a sentence in prison.

“I can only hope this incident can serve as a warning to people about just how dangerous a single punch can be.”

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