MARTIAL arts thug Rhys Iles beat his victim so hard he can now only communicate using his thumb.
Iles delivered blow after blow on John Gibson after a row over a taxi outside Sunderland’s Roker Hotel.
Now, Mr Gibson’s family have spoken exclusively to the Echo after Iles, 28, was yesterday jailed for six years.
Mr Gibson’s father, Robert, 81, told how his son will never recover from brain injuries inflicted by the trained mixed martial arts fighter.
Instead the 49-year-old receives round-the-clock care at the specialist Walkergate Hospital, in Newcastle.
Mr Gibson snr, of Silksworth, said: “That man will do about three years for what he did – and then get out.
“My son has no one apart from the people who visit him. His life is staring at four walls all day, every day.
“The judge should have gone and seen my son and it would give him an idea of what sentence to give this man.
“My son can’t do anything. That’s justice for you.”
Mr Gibson hadgot involved in a row when a group of women jumped into a cab booked by him and his partner to take them home from the Roker Hotel last July.
An argument and then a scuffle broke out that ended up with Iles, who was best man at a wedding party being held at the hotel, getting involved.
Iles and Mr Gibson, who had a history of ill-feeling between them, ended up fighting.
But when Mr Gibson tried to walk away Iles launched a further attack where witnesses describe him hurling “sickening” blows to Mr Gibson’s head.
It was initially feared Mr Gibson, of Whitburn, would die from the repeated blows. He did survive his severe brain injury but will never fully recover and his condition is not expected to greatly improve.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the former fisherman is still in hospital, now fed through a tube directly into his stomach, needs a hoist to move and cannot even swallow.
Prosecutor Julian Smith told the court: “He was able to follow one stage commands, in the judgement of those treating him, to indicate his agreement with his left thumb, literally holding his thumb up to indicate a positive.”
The court heard efforts are being made to teach Mr Gibson to use a touch pad computer to help with communication but it is a substantial and very long process.
The court hear Mr Gibson had not been at the wedding party that night but was in a separate part of the hotel.
He had started walking off up the road, though may have turned around and said something, when Iles went after him.
Mr Smith said: “He pursued him and struck him to the head when he reached him.
“He was unconscious and made no effort to defend himself but Mr Iles approached him, knelt or crouched down beside him and punched him four to five times with clenched fists to his head.”
Off shore worker Iles, 28, of George Scott Street, South Shields, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm.
Judge John Milford jailed him for six years.
He told Iles: “Mr Gibson has suffered what the consultant describes as severe brain injury. I prefer catastrophic.”
Robert Adams, defending, said Isles “did not intend this level of injury”.