Trained boxer could have killed his victim after a 'cowardly' punch from behind outside a Leamington bar

His victim hit his head on the pavement and suffered a fractured skull and swelling to his brain

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 4:47 pm

A man suffered a fractured skull and could have died when he hit his head on the pavement following a cowardly attack on him from behind outside a Leamington bar.

And a judge a Warwick Crown Court heard the powerful blow which felled James de-Silva had been struck by trained boxer Iain Thornton.

Thornton (22) of Grayswood Avenue, Coventry, was jailed for 20 months after he admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Iain Thornton (22) of Grayswood Avenue, Coventry, was jailed for 20 months after he admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Sally Cairns said that in February last year Mr de-Silva went for a drink with his flatmate because it was the last time he would see her before he was due to fly to Australia.

In the early hours of the following morning he was outside the Moo Bar in Leamington town centre where a CCTV camera showed him talking to three men.

The bar manager, who saw the incident, said they were challenging him to fight, but Mr de-Silva responded by telling them: “There are three of you and only one of me. I’m not stupid.”

So the manager told the three they would not be allowed back in because of their behaviour.

One of them then then went to speak to Thornton, who was on the opposite side of the road but was ‘agitated’ and appeared to be part of their group.

“The defendant then came across the road towards Mr de-Silva, who had his back to the road, and swung a punch from behind, striking him to the head and knocking him to the ground.

“He struck his head on the pavement, and the defendant went to hit him again, but was pulled away by a doorman.”

Thornton walked away, but was ‘followed’ by a CCTV camera operator until he was stopped by the police, and after he was arrested he claimed: “He came at me. He deserved it.”

Meanwhile Mr de-Silva was taken to hospital where he was found to have a cut and three fractures to his skull above his left eye.

As a result he was not able to leave for Australia as planned because of swelling to his brain, and it cost him £350 to change his flight.

When Thornton was interviewed, he said he could not remember the assault because of the amount he had drunk, but accepted being responsible and said he was a trained boxer and was disgusted by what he had done.

Mrs Cairns added that Thornton had been jailed for 12 months in 2017 for wounding after attacking someone with a glass outside a pub.

James Bruce, defending, said: “The defendant was disgusted with himself, and still is. He knows he is at grave risk of going to prison today.”

But he urged the judge to pass a suspended sentence, pointing out it had been a single blow, although conceding that was because other people had prevented further blows.

He said that prior to the incident Thornton had kept out of trouble since his last sentence in 2017, and had not been in any further trouble in the last 14 months.

Mr Bruce added that Thornton suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and ‘has been focussing on boxing as an outlet for his disorder.’

Jailing Thornton, Recorder Charles Falk told him: “On that night you two were not known to each-other, and I can see no provocation or justification for what you did.

“All he was doing was standing outside a bar at 2am. You were in a group, and that group offered to fight him, and he very sensibly declined. Three-on-one has always been cowardly odds.

“One of that group said something to you, and then you went over the road and you threw a very strong punch to the face from behind.

“It was a cowardly punch because he had no opportunity to see it coming or defend himself, and it’s not lost on me that you are a trained boxer, someone who is trained to put all his weight behind a punch.

“This is one of those awful cases where he struck his head on the floor and was knocked unconscious.

“He was lucky to some extent, and you were lucky to some extent, because people who hit their head on the floor can suffer bleeding to the brain and life-changing injuries or even death.”