A man who carried out a savage street attack leaving his victim with life-threatening brain injuries has been jailed for nine years at Lincoln Crown Court.
Anthony Hodgson struck his victim Ian Bannister to the back of the head with a heavy coping stone he had removed from a nearby wall.
Mr Bannister, who is in his late 50s and was already in poor health, fell to the ground unconscious where he was found by a passer-by who raised the alarm.
The incident occurred moments after Mr Bannister had used his walking stick to smash the windows of the White Hart pub in Lord Street, Gainsborough.
Hodgson followed him from the pub and carried out the attack after the two men were involved in an altercation in Fawcett Street in the town.
Hodgson, 38, of no fixed address, had been due to stand trial in front of a jury today but changed his plea and admitted a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent as a result of the incident on the morning of January 29 this year.
Recorder Paul Mann QC, passing sentence, told him: “For whatever reason you decided you were going to take the law into your own hands and teach him a lesson.
“You inflicted on him life threatening injury. He had multiple brain injuries. You could easily have killed him.”
Recorder Mann praised passer by Malcolm Stocks who raised the alarm and then together with his wife Sharon comforted Mr Bannister and administered first aid until ambulance staff arrived.
He awarded the couple £100 each from public funds saying: “They showed a good deal of public spiritedness.
“It would have been easy to turn the other way or to have phoned the emergency services and left it to them.”
Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, said that Mr Bannister had got it into his head that the White Hart was linked to the death of his son in Doncaster three months previously and 24 hours earlier had also smashed the pub windows.
“He returned to the White Hart and repeated what he had done the day before. Having done so he continued on his way along Lord Street and into Parnell Street.
“Within seconds this defendant appeared on the scene and he set off after Mr Bannister.
“Having spotted Mr Bannister on the other side of the road he pulled a heavy coping stone from a garden wall.
“The defendant crossed into Fawcett Street and approached Mr Bannister. There was an altercation between them. The defendant struck Mr Bannister what must have been a savage blow to the head with the coping stone.
“Mr Bannister collapsed to the floor unconscious. The defendant dropped the weapon at the scene and ran off back to where he had come from. He returned to the White Hart where he climbed over a gate and entered the premises.”
Mr Bannister was discovered by Mr Stocks who, with his wife, helped him until an ambulance arrived.
The injured man was taken to Lincoln County Hospital where he was found to have bleeding and swelling to the brain.
Mr Aspden added: “The fact of the matter is that as a result of the assault he could easily have died.”
He said that Mr Bannister has since made “a reasonable recovery” from the attack.
The court was told that Hodgson had 20 previous convictions for 39 offences although none for serious violence.
Mark Watson, in mitigation, told the court: “The defendant did not know Mr Bannister. He did not know his background.”
In a basis of plea submitted to the court Hodgson said his intention was to follow Mr Bannister to his home and use the coping stone to smash his windows.
However when he was spotted and confronted he carried out the assault.
Mr Watson added “The defendant has a background of hard drugs. It started when he was 11 years of age. It led him along a path from which there was really no return.
“He has successfully undertaken a detox programme in custody and has made efforts to improve his health.
“As a result he presents as substantially different to how he was when this offence occurred.”