A SON struggled to recognise members of his own family after an off-duty soldier undergoing extensive combat training attacked him in the street.
Joseph Leech had some of the most severe skull injuries ever seen by his consultant after 1st Batallion Coldstream Guard Karl Pascoe repeatedly smashed a fence post down on his head.
The 32-year-old victim needed an eight-hour operation to repair damage to his brain and needed further surgery during a two-month hospital stay.
Newcastle Crown Court heard Mr Leech remembers nothing after standing outside his home at Woodlands Terrace in Washington to have a cigarette on December 23, until he woke up in the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s intensive care unit on New Year’s Eve.
Mr Leech said in a statement: “I had no idea what was going on. It was difficult to recognise some of my family who were visiting me.
“I have no idea why I was assaulted or who assaulted me. I cannot remember how I received the injuries.”
He did not give evidence from the witness box in court.
Pascoe, of Stridingedge, Blackfell, Washington, denied attempted murder.
He was cleared of the charge but found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent after a trial.
Mrs Justice Andrews sentenced him to 13 years behind bars.
The judge said this was a “tragic case” not only for the victim but for the well-respected guardsman who will now lose his Army career.
Pascoe’s platoon commander and other senior members of the Army had given references to the court, describing the soldier as a “quiet, humble and reserved” member of the regiment.
The judge told the 29-year-old: “I’m prepared to accept that this was an utterly isolated incident which was highly out of character.”
She added: “You were someone prepared to face imminent danger, possible death, possible injury on behalf of the rest of the community.
“That is why this is a tragic case, not just for the victim but for you personally.”
The judge said Pascoe was fortunate that his victim had recovered from the attack.
The court was told Pascoe was on leave from an intensive training programme in preparation for a deployment to Afghanistan in February.
The solder said he saw Mr Leech in his street “looking angry” and carrying a plank of wood, so he decided to “de-escalate” the situation.
Pascoe said he attacked Mr Leech with the wood he took off him because he believed the stranger was about to hurt him.
When asked if he wanted to kill Mr Leech, Pascoe said: “No, definitely not.
“I had never met the man before in my life.
“I thought he was going to hurt me.”
Prosecutor Jolyon Perkes said Pascoe lifted the post above his head before delivering each blow as his victim lay on the ground.
Mr Leech’s father came out of the family home and found his son lying motionless with blood coming from his head.
Mr Leech was diagnosed as having life-threatening brain and head injuries.
Mr Perkes said Pascoe “deliberately chose” to attack the back of Mr Leach’s head as he lay prone on the ground in a bid to inflict maximum damage and nothing could justify his actions.
Robin Patton, defending, said Pascoe started out with good intentions when he approached Mr Leech and did not go out that night looking for trouble.