A MARTIAL arts fighter almost killed a man in an attack outside a seafront bar.
Rhys Iles punched John Gibson outside the Roker Hotel and continued hitting him after he fell to the ground.
The 48-year-old, suffered massive head injuries and was in a critical condition when he was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Medics at one stage feared he may die due to the seriousness of his injuries.
Eight months after the assault Mr Gibson’s condition is no longer life-threatening, but he remains “very, very badly injured”.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, Iles, 28, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent, a charge which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and which he has previously denied.
His barrister, Robert Adams, told the court: “He pleaded not guilty in October last year.
“At that time the prognosis of the complainant was extremely unfortunate.
“At one time it was believed he might die from his injuries.
“We have now been provided with documentation and it is clear, although he is very, very badly injured, he is not going to die from his injuries.
“It has never been the case that the defendant was said to have used a weapon or kicking. He inflicted these injuries with his fists.”
The court heard, despite the seriousness of the offence, Iles had been on bail.
But Mr Adams added: “He fully accepts he will receive an immediate custodial sentence.
“He would like to be remanded in custody.”
Judge John Milford adjourned the case until April 13 and remanded Iles, of George Scott Street, South Shields, in custody.
The judge told him: “You realistically accept an inevitable prison sentence will follow.
“It will be a significant one.”
Iles submitted a basis of plea to the court, which was not read out.
Prosecutor Julian Smith said: “We are dealing with a series of blows, there are punches when the victim is on the ground, that is what caused the damage.”
The court heard Mr Gibson’s family had been made aware Iles was likely to admit his guilt at yesterday’s hearing.
Judge Milford said: “They should be informed of the sentencing date so they can be here if they wish to be.”