A drunk who punched a teenager when violence erupted outside a nightclub could have killed his victim, and he was jailed for 18 months.
Kieran Clayton, 21, who had drunk eight double whiskies, was involved in a fight outside The Assembly Rooms in Boston Market Place when he turned and punched Liam Chandler, 19, who he wrongly believed was a member of another group involved in the dispute.
Mr Chandler, who had no connection with the earlier incident, fell to the ground hitting his head on the pavement.
Phil Howes, prosecuting, said Mr Chandler was left bleeding from his ear. Police went to his assistance and he was taken to the Pilgrim Hospital where he was diagnosed as having a brain injury.
He was transferred to the Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham where he underwent surgery which saved his life.
Mr Howes said: “He was with friends talking to people and his next memory is waking up in hospital. He lost two days. He cannot recall anything during that time.
“Afterwards he was told to take two months off work and he was not allowed to drive for six months.”
Clayton, 21, of Manor Road, London Colney, St Albans, admitted a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm as a result of the incident in the early hours of December 30, 2017.
He also admitted two charges of common assault relating to fighting he was involved in before the attack. He was jailed for 18 months.
Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, told him: “This was drink-fuelled violence in public with lots of people watching in which a wholly innocent individual sustained very serious injuries which could have been fatal.
“Liam Chandler was entirely innocent of any wrong-doing at all. His error was to wander somewhere near you.
“You punched him once to the face. The punch knocked him to the floor and his head struck the pavement.
“He sustained potentially catastrophic injury. Without the treatment he received so promptly and expertly he would have died and you would have been in the dock for manslaughter.”
Richard Reynolds, in mitigation, said that Clayton had no previous convictions and urged that any prison sentence should be suspended.
He said that Clayton was the victim of an assault himself and mistakenly believed Mr Chandler was one of his attackers.
Mr Reynolds said: “He was intoxicated. He was drunk and he had been assaulted. Shortly before this he was on the ground and he was punched and kicked.
“When he got up he was dazed and confused and threw a punch. The victim was entirely blameless. At that moment in that haze that wasn’t the defendant’s perception. That perception was wrong and a large part of that was due to drink.
“He has consistently been remorseful about the injury that he caused and the damage that has been done. He has been mortified by the situation.
“He is otherwise a careful, considerate and well-behaved young man.”