A dad-to-be who caused permanent brain damage to a 14-year-old stranger in a city centre attack has been put behind bars.
Michael Ford, 22, lashed out at the teenage boy for no reason and left him with life-changing injuries including a fractured skull and eye socket.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the young victim’s learning, development and memory have been effected by the injury to his brain.
The schoolboy, who was a keen rugby player and junior boxer, cannot now take part in his favourite sports and has lost his sense of taste and smell.
Ford, of Coach Road Estate, Washington, admitted causing grievous bodily harm and has been jailed for two years.
Mr Recorder John Aitken told Ford: “What you did was almost kill that young man and effected his life badly.
“You inflicted brain damage, which I am told is permanent, on a 14-year-old boy.
“He will make some recovery but will suffer the effects of the blow you struck him that night for the rest of his life.
“This young man will face a lifetime recovering from this.”
Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court the boy had been on a night out in Newcastle last November with family members, including his grandad, and had started chatting to Ford and his friends.
As the groups started to go their separate ways, Ford lashed out at the teenager without warning and caused the devastating damage.
Mr Wardlaw said: “He’s a 14-year-old, other 14-year-olds would be doing GCSEs in the next few years.
“He has significant brain injury.”
The court heard Ford is a family man with a good job but has convictions, before and after the attack on the teenager, for drunken violence.
Adam Birkby, defending, told the court: “It is a matter of deep regret that the complainant was a 14-year-old child.
“It is significant that the defendant could not have known that when he struck him, bearing in mind the physical size of the complainant and bearing in mind the complainant was out on a Saturday night in a city centre pub.”
Mr Birkby said Ford, who is about to become a father, was distressed when he found out the age of his victim and the what damage his single punch had done.
He added: “He is devastated that this one punch should have had such a significant impact upon this young man at the start of his life.
“He offers, through me, a full and unreserved apology to the complainant.”
The court heard Ford, who handed in references to his ordinarily positive character, has sought professional help to control his temper and has stopped drinking completely.
Mr Birkby said Ford believed the teenager had said something in a certain “tone” before he threw the blow.