Watch as mum of one-punch victim urges people to stop, think and walk away as Christmas campaign launched

“Stop, think, and walk away,” is the message from grieving mum Maxine Thompson-Curl, whose son Kristian was left brain damaged following a one-punch attack, and tragically passed away less than a year later.

Kristian Thompson was just 18 when his went to pick up some friends at a night cub in County Durham on September 3, 2010.

After being asked by a man in the toilets if he had any cigarettes and replying no, Kristian was the victim of a single punch attack, and after falling and hitting his head on the floor, was taken to Durham University Hospital where he fell into a coma.

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He underwent surgery to remove part of his skull and also had the front lobe of his brain removed.

(Left to right) Mick Irwin, Vice-Chair of One Punch UK, Helena Barron, Chief Superintendent at Northumbria Police, Maxine Thompson-Curl, and Tonya Antonis, Assistant Chief Constable at Durham Constabulary, holding a poster to mark the launch of the Punched Out Cold campaign. Picture by FRANK REID.

Maxine said: “I got a call from Kristian’s friend saying he was being taken to hospital and when I got there he had been placed on life-support. I spoke with the consultant who said he was going to be operated on to remove both sides of his skull in order to relieve the pressure.

"I was in total shock and just didn’t understand how something like this could happen from one punch. The consultant said the injuries were caused by a combination of the punch, which had damaged the front of Kristian’s skull, and the impact of hitting his head.”

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While Kristian did eventually come out of his coma, he was left with brain damage, with the part of his brain which had been removed responsible for controlling his emotions.

Tragically ten months later, on July 10 at the age of 19, Kristian was found collapsed in the shower while in hospital and was pronounced dead.

Maxine Thompson-Curl's son Kristian Thompson, ended up with brain damage following a one punch attack and sadly passed away ten months later. Picture by FRANK REID.

While Maxine was told this was “most likely” a result of his brain injury, a coroner said he couldn’t be 100 per cent certain.

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His attacker had already been sentenced to just over two years in prison, and Maxine said he could not be retried following Kristian’s death due to the inconclusive verdict of the coroner.

Following Kristian’s death, Maxine channelled her energy into setting up the One Punch UK charity to raise awareness of the tragic consequences once punch can have, and in the run-up to Christmas, Kristian’s family have launched a Punched Out Cold campaign, which took place at its base in Sunderland.

Maxine, who now lives in South Shields, said: “People just don’t have an understanding of the damage one punch can cause and the devastating consequences, whether through brain damage or the loss of a life, it can have.

Kristian Thompson was the victim of a one punch attack.
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"And it’s not just the victim of the attack. There is a ripple effect which can also have terrible consequences for the family of the perpetrator. There’s a lot of education on the dangers of knife crime but those fists on the end of your arm can also have devastating consequences.

"My message to people is to stop, think, and walk away. Think of Kristian and the hundreds of parents, like me, who’ve lost their child or are caring for someone who has been brain damaged.”

Maxine also feels more needs to be done to tackle excessive alcohol consumption, particularly as we approach the festive season.

She added: “Nearly every family I’ve spoken with, alcohol has been involved. I hate the term Black Eye Friday, the last Friday before Christmas, but this is the busiest time for the police and hospitals to deal with assaults.

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Mick Irwin, Vice Chairman of One Punch UK, feels there should be a minimum per unit price for alcohol. Picture by FRANK REID.

"People get pre-loaded on alcohol before going out and more needs to be done about the licensing of cheap alcohol in off-licenses and supermarkets.”

It’s a sentiment shared by the charity’s Vice-Chair, Mike Irwin, who recently retired from his role as Alcohol Harm Reduction Officer with Durham Constabulary.

MIke, 51, said: “Many people involved in fatal one punch attacks don’t mean to kill their victim, but this is the reality of what can happen and alcohol is often involved. I think there should be a minimum price per unit, as well as longer minimum sentences which would act as a deterrent.”

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Sadly Kristian’s tragic situation is not an isolated incident for officers at Northumbria and Durham police forces.

Northumbria Police Chief Superintendent Helena Barron said: “I think a lot of people don’t think that one punch really can kill or cause serious damage, but this is something we often have to deal with and people do need to stop, think and walk away.

"We’re not here to stop people drinking over the festive period, but we do want them to act responsibly and think about their actions.”

Helena Barron, Chief Superintendent at Northumbria Police, has urged people to "drink responsibly" over the festive period. Picture by FRANK REID.
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Durham Constabulary’s Assistant Chief Constable, Tonya Antonis, added: “Some people don’t understand the consequences. A fist really can be a lethal weapon. We want people to have a good time over Christmas, but it’s important they know their limits and think about the consequences of their actions.”

Tonya Antonis, Assistant Chief Constable at Durham Constabulary, says people need to understand their fists can be a "lethal weapon". Picture by FRANK REID.