Victim joins police and CPS in 'one punch' warning

18/11/2015

A former soldier whose career ended after he was the victim of a ‘one punch’ assault is backing a campaign by the Crown Prosecution Service and Cleveland Police to raise awareness of the serious consequences of excessive alcohol or drug misuse.

The campaign coincides with national Alcohol Awareness Week, which begins on Monday 16th November.

Former Lance Corporal Albert Duffy, 27, had to have part of his brain removed after he suffered a fractured skull when he was assaulted by Keith Anderson at a bus stop in Hartlepool town centre on 26th July 2014.

Anderson had already struck out that evening as he approached someone and asked for a cigarette. Angry at only being offered the remainder of a cigarette, he lashed out at the man, leaving him with a fractured cheekbone and other facial injuries.

He was jailed for seven years at Teesside Crown Court in April this year. He was intoxicated with alcohol and drugs at the time of the incident.

Lance Corporal Duffy was left in a coma for two weeks following the attack. He still suffers as a result of the incident, which ended his career in the army.

During his career Lance Corporal Duffy had survived an explosion from a bomb underneath his vehicle whilst on the second of three tours of Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Duffy said: "When this first happened to me I didnt know what I would do without the army and I found it difficult to comprehend that a man had ruined my life by punching me for no reason and without warning.

"Now I live with medical issues such as memory loss, anger and frustration and I worry that about whats going to happen to me in the future.

"My life has changed beyond recognition. I am no longer the same person. I wish that Keith Anderson had thought about his actions that night. Maybe if he hadnt been under the influence of drink and drugs then I wouldnt be in this position now."

Since 2003, six people have been killed as a result of one punch assaults in Cleveland, however, there have also been numerous others where victims have survived.

Sergeant Paul Higgins, from Cleveland Police Licensing Unit, said: "These actions are mindless and can devastate a victims life, and the lives of those around them, within a split second.

"Alcohol is a factor in a lot of cases that we see where people become the victims of one-punch assaults. The case of Lance Corporal Duffy is a prime example of someone whose life has been turned upside down as a result of an individual who was fuelled by drink and drugs.

"Lance Corporal Duffy had served his country and even survived an explosion in Afghanistan. It is appalling that he was then the victim of this mindless attack which left him so severely injured.

"This campaign aims to raise awareness of the serious consequences of losing control as a result of drinking excessive alcohol or taking drugs. Our hope is that it may make someone think twice before having just one more drink. It could be the one thing that prevents a victim from being seriously injuring or even being killed."

John Dilworth, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East, said: "In this case Mr Duffy continues to suffer from the long-term effects of the assault but, in many recent cases, the victim has actually died as a result.

"The impact on victims and their families can be enormous and the perpetrators of such mindless violence can potentially face years in prison as a result of their reckless actions.

"While we will continue to prosecute all such cases robustly, we would encourage everyone to consider the impact of alcohol and drugs on their behaviour. At the point at which we become involved in such cases, the far-reaching consequences for victim and defendant are already in motion.

"The best time to think about your behaviour is before you start drinking, before you instigate violence and long before someone is seriously injured or even dead as a result of your actions."