Bawtry man jailed for unprovoked attack

A BAWTRY MAN has been jailed for two years and eight months after an ‘unprovoked’ attack in the early hours of New Years Day.

Paul Oakden, 21, of Kingswood Close, Bawtry was sentenced for grievous bodily harm at Doncaster Crown Court on Tuesday.

He left 35-year-old Iain Eldridge fighting for his life at the start of this year.

On Saturday 31st December Mr Eldridge and his girlfriend were enjoying an evening out in Bawtry. Shortly after midnight the couple were on Station Road, when Oakden, who was unknown to them, approached.

In a completely unprovoked attack, Oakden punched Mr Eldridge in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement.

He was taken to hospital, but was later transferred to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield with a severe head injury, where his condition was declared critical and he was left fighting for his life.

Through a statement released after the sentencing, Mr Eldridge’s family said The start of 2012 was mixed with ‘anxiety, fear and uncertainty’ as to what the rest of our lives would hold, because of Oakden and his ‘inane and thoughtless actions’.

It continued: “Iain is a hardworking and honest family man who was just out enjoying News Years Eve as hundreds of other people were doing, when he was assaulted in a completely unprovoked attack by Oakden.”

“There is no other reason as to why he attacked Iain other than he is just a thug who was out to cause trouble. He won’t admit this and continues to lie about the attack, but he knows in his own mind what he’s done and that he has ruined our lives.”

“We are satisfied with the sentence given and feel it reflects some of the damage and pain he has caused, and hopefully two years and eight months locked away will teach him a valued lesson.”

“Iain’s life will never truly be the same as it was as a result of the injuries inflicted upon him and he may never be able to work again, however we are thankful that he managed to pull through and that we still have him here with us, and we can now try to leave everything in the past and move on with our lives.”

Det Ch Insp Steve Whittaker, the officer in charge of the case, said the ferocity of the punch left Mr Eldridge with no time to defend himself and in a life threatening condition for over a month.

He added: “Now at home he is progressing well, however it is a long recovery process he will have to undergo, which will require further operations and the long term prognosis is unknown but totally life changing for him.”

“Oakden has shown no remorse for his actions and from his violent, drunken behaviour. He has created an overwhelming amount of distress and heartache for Mr Eldridge and his family, in particular his two young children who could have very easily been left without a father because of his senseless crime.”

He also warned people to take care when on nights out, and urged them to consider the possible consequences of violence.

“Mr Eldridge was out celebrating New Years eve and could never have expected that his night would end in such a tragic way,” he added.

“All people, particularly young men, should think twice before engaging in mindless violence as the consequences can be drastic.”