Paralysed Boldon mum’s attacker jailed after punch that ‘ruined my life’

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A MOTHER left paralysed after a petty row over a spilled drink applauded as her attacker was jailed for three-and-a-half-years.

A MOTHER left paralysed after a petty row over a spilled drink applauded as her attacker was jailed for three-and-a-half-years.

Claire Hilton, 29, said she was pleased Christopher Towers was put behind bars for breaking her neck in a one-punch attack.

But after watching the proceedings in her wheelchair at Newcastle Crown Court, the devastated telesales worker from Sunderland said she feels deep anger over what happened to her and that Towers, 24, had ruined her life.

In a statement to the court, Claire said she feels her only point in living is because of her son Callum, 11.

She had been out with pals at the Wheatsheaf pub in West Boldon, when trouble started over a drink that had been knocked over and marked Towers’ mum Lynn Flaherty’s dress.

Prosecutor Julie Clemitson said Claire and her friends left the bar to head home but Towers, his mam and his girlfriend Kelly McKone shouted abuse at them.

Flaherty, who was out celebrating her birthday, slapped one of Claire’s group and Claire was “backhanded” by McKone.

But events took a devastating turn when Towers became involved.

Miss Clemitson said: “He ran over and punched Claire Hilton full force to the left side of her face.

“This knocked her over, she hit a wall behind her before falling to the ground.

“Almost immediately she came round and realised she was paralysed.

“She felt a tingling sensation and she could not move her legs.

“Almost immediately she was aware there was a real problem there.”

As stricken Claire lay injured on the ground her friend Hugh Anderson came to her aid but he too was punched by Towers.

Doctors say Claire’s neck injury is commonly seen in victims of road traffic accidents.

She spent five months in hospital, where she almost lost her life due to the devastating injuries and had to undergo a serious operation.

It was initially feared she would be permanently paralysed, but is slowly showing signs of improvement.

However, Miss Clemitson said: “The doctor does not anticipate that Claire will achieve that which she could do before she was injured.

“Slow improvement is still expected but she will not have the same freedom of function for normal activities.

“Claire’s life has been turned upside down.”

The court heard Claire, who once enjoyed an active social life and loved going out for meals, now needs help to even eat.

The mum broke down in tears when Alec Burns, defending Towers, told the court of the remorse he feels and the fact he never intended to cause such devastation to anybody that night.

She said during the proceedings: “It’s remorse now he’s going to jail.”

Members of Claire’s family left the court in floods of tears during the hearing.

But more than a dozen supporters remained inside and applauded with her as Towers, who admitted causing grievous bodily harm and assault, was led away to start his three year and thirty week sentence.

Shouts of “hope you enjoy it” were aimed at Towers, of New Road, Boldon, as he was led away by guards.

Flaherty, 46, of New Road, Boldon, was given a 12-month community order.

McKone, 30, of Stanhope Road, South Shields, was sentenced to a community order with 40 hours of unpaid work.

Both women had admitted common assault.

After the hearing Claire said: “I am pleased with the result, but I’m just angry this happened to me at all. This has ruined mine and my son’s lives.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho