A MUM left paralysed in a row over a spilt drink broke down in court and screamed “look what you’ve done to me” as her attacker was allowed home for Christmas.
Sunderland telesales worker Claire Hilton had to be comforted by family as the man who assaulted her pleaded guilty.
The 29-year-old cried out: “He’s getting Christmas out and he’s ruined my life.”
The mum-of-one suffered a broken neck after an argument in a pub in West Boldon in June.
Claire, from West Boldon, was in court yesterday for the trial of Christopher Towers, 24.
Towers was to face trial on a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
But before a jury could be sworn in, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing grievous bodily harm - which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison - and Claire was not required to give evidence.
Claire, who watched the proceedings from her wheelchair in court, broke down when she heard Towers will not be sentenced until January and has been granted bail over the festive period.
Towers, of New Road, Boldon Colliery made no eye contact with Claire during the 10-minute hearing and was told to be back in court on January 6 to be sentenced for the attack on her and a second assault on Hugh Anderson who had tried to help her, which he also admitted yesterday.
Towers’ co-accused Kelly McKone, 30, of Stanhope Road, South Shields, had already admitted an assault on Claire that same night at an earlier hearing.
Prosecutor Daniel Cordey told the court the common assault relates to, in McKone’s words, “back handing” Claire earlier that evening, before the serious assault took place.
A third defendant Lynn Flaherty, 46, of New Road, Boldon, admitted assault by beating relating to a separate female victim during the trouble that night.
The trio had to walk past Claire, who shouted: “Look what you’ve done to me, you’ve ruined my life” as they left court on bail.
Speaking after the hearing Claire said she has been left “devastated” by the whole ordeal she has suffered, all for the sake of a £2.80 cider drink which got knocked over.
She said: “I don’t see how he should be getting Christmas with his family, he has ruined my life.
“This has ruined mine and my little boy’s life.
“He’s going to get at the most five years, if that, and what’s that? He has ruined mine and my boy’s life forever and he’s going to walk away.”
Claire said both she and her son are trying their best to cope with her situation and are thankful to the support from their family and friends.
She said the attack happened 150 yards away from the Wheatsheaf pub, where the argument originally broke out over a spilt pint of cider.
She added: “The lawyers said he was able to plead to the lesser charge because the defence would have picked holes in everyone’s statements and there was a chance he could have got off with it totally, so it was rather than take that chance.
“They have accepted he didn’t intend to break my neck. This has ruined my life, not just my life, my whole family’s life, everyone’s life.
“I just cant understand how he hasn’t been remanded, I cant understand how he has been bailed. I feel totally let down in that sense.
“I’ve had the short straw in this basically throughout.
“My Christmas is ruined, I’m not even living with my little boy, he’s living with my mam and I’m living with my sister. All I did was go out to the local pub.”
Claire said she is determined to come back to court for the sentencing hearing next year.