Judo coach jailed for 'savage' bar assault in Hull which left victim with brain damage
A MAN was left with brain damage after an unprovoked attack in a popular west Hull bar.
Paul Spence was in the toilets at Pave in Princes Avenue, when he was punched by judo coach Stephen Shepherd.
It followed a mass brawl in the main bar area started by Shepherd's brother, Mark.
Mr Spence, 32, was not involved in the brawl in any way.
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Shepherd, 47, who coaches at Hull Old Boys Club and East Yorkshire Judo, burst into the toilets and punched Mr Spence in the face.
Witnesses later described a sickening sound as his head hit the floor.
Mr Spence spent months in hospital and had to undergo speech therapy because of the serious brain injuries he suffered.
He still suffers memory loss, seizures and speech problems.
In his victim statement read to Hull Crown Court, Mr Spence said: "I suffered a significant brain injury. "The assault tore my life apart.
"I am still receiving medical treatment and I've been warned my injuries will never be cured and I will have permanent damage.
"I still find it hard to understand why I was hit as I hadn't said or done anything wrong.
"It upsets me that he feels it is acceptable to assault people and cause the distress he has."
Shepherd, of Highfield Close, Sutton, was convicted by a jury of grievous bodily harm after just 30 minutes. He was jailed for 16 months.
He only escaped a longer prison sentence because of strong character references presented to the court.
His brother Mark, of Hathersage Road, east Hull, was jailed for eight months after pleading guilty to affray.
The brothers handed themselves in to the police following an appeal in the Mail.
Recorder Andrew Stubbs told them: "Mark Shepherd, you went through the bar with vengeance on your mind and launched a savage attack on your unsuspecting victim.
"A peaceful bar then erupted into a melee of violence.
"People were knocked to the floor, women were kicked. It was a prolonged episode of violence.
"Stephen Shepherd, you went into the toilet and encountered your victim, who was doing nothing more threatening than laughing and joking with his friends.
"You punched him hard and he fell to the floor. It made a sound like two snooker balls hitting each other.
"The jury rejected any suggestion of self-defence. It was a deliberate attack, in drink, on an unprovoked, defenceless victim and it had grave consequences."
Mr Spence received weeks of treatment at the neurology ward and was placed in a medically induced coma for a week.
The long-term effects on his health are still unknown.