Man left with bleed on brain after being knocked out in single-punch attack in Sunderland street

A Sunderland man has narrowly avoided jail after knocking out a man with a single punch.

Bryon Finnigan.
Bryon Finnigan.

Bryon Finnigan’s city centre attack caused a bleed on his victim’s brain from his head hitting the pavement, and memory loss.

Finnigan, 45, of Osborne Street, Roker, lashed out in anger at 4am while engaging with girls, a court heard.

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Finnigan – who has lived his life without speech or hearing - was interrupted by his victim who believed he was making a nuisance of himself on Tuesday, June 1 last year.

Magistrates in South Tyneside jailed him for 12 weeks but suspended the sentence for 18 months after being told his disability led him to suffer abuse.

But they warned Finnigan, who has assault convictions from 2005 and 2017, he could not rely on that defence again.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Winchester said: “There is a statement by the friend of the injured party because the injured party was unable to recall the incident.

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“They were in the city centre having some drinks. At about 4am, they were standing at a takeaway, and a couple of other people were present.

“The injured party noticed the defendant speaking to girls. He approached because it appeared the defendant’s presence was unwanted.

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“The witness saw the defendant punch the injured party with a single punch to the face, the punch being utterly unprovoked.

“The injured party fell to the ground, and the defendant ran off. The injured party was immediately knocked out as his head struck the pavement.

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“He lost a lot of blood. He was totally unresponsive and later had no recollection of what had happened.

“The defendant knocked him out cold, it was by no means self-defence.”

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Mrs Winchester said the injured man was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where a scan revealed a bleed to the brain.

He had also suffered a 4cm head laceration which needed four staples, and there was an abrasion to the right side of his chin.

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Finnigan, who has 23 previous convictions, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Angus Westgarth, defending, said the victim had first sworn at Finnigan, adding: “I concede that this crosses the custody threshold.

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“He is 45 years old and from birth has been without speech or hearing, and he’s had to endure one heck of a life.

“He was chatting to a group of girls. The way he communicates is through sign language, and he can lip read to a certain extent.

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“There is what appears to be a grunt when he communicates.

“It doesn’t mean anything aggressive but at 4am, when people have had intoxicating liquor, it may have appeared that the attention he was giving the girls was unwanted.

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“He punched him in the face, he didn’t think through the consequences. He didn’t run off.

“The abuse that he received sparked a reaction that he regrets. Custody holds great fear for him.”

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Finnigan must also complete 36 rehabilitation days and pay his victim £500 compensation. He was fined £120.