A FUNERAL guest punched a fellow mourner unconscious during a row over food at a wake.
Ross Foster wrongly thought grieving David Cairns was a gatecrasher who helped himself to food put on at the Cross Keys pub in Washington, after the service on February 18.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that Mr Cairns, who had been paying respects to his best friend’s mother that day, remembers nothing about being attacked until he woke up in hospital with missing teeth, wounds to his head and stitches in his mouth. He has been left with an £8,000 dental bill.
Horrified witnesses told police Foster knocked Mr Cairns, who had been outside having a cigarette, unconscious with a single blow before launching a forceful kick at his head.
A man who lived nearby said: “The punch must have knocked him unconscious before he hit the floor. He didn’t break his fall at all.
“He was lying motionless on the road when the defendant took a few steps towards him, swung his right leg fully back and kicked him to the right side of the head.
“I honestly thought the male in question had been killed.”
Prosecutor Emma Dowling said there had been no problems at the wake until other customers were allowed into the area. “Those people started to eat food from the buffet, provided for the funeral party. It caused a little bit ill feeling in the pub.”
Mr Cairns told police: “I did not cause any trouble, as this would have been disrespectful.
“It was the funeral of my best friend’s mother. I feel disgusted at being assaulted.”
Foster, 21, of Waskerley Road, Barmston, Washington, admitted assault and was jailed for 20 months. The funeral was for his ex- partner’s mother.
Judge Roger Thorn told him: “You completely misread the situation. You thought some interlopers were helping themselves to food provided for the mourners, and you happened to pick on a perfectly innocent person.
“Once someone kicks someone, when unconscious on the ground, immediate custodial sentences have to be the order of the day.”
Mitigating, Jamie Adams said Foster, who works as a fitter, has been sacked by his own father over what he did and has a respectable background. He added: “It was a short loss of temper. What he did happened in a very short space of time.”