A dad whose son’s life was left hanging in the balance after being felled by a single punch has blasted the jailed attacker and said: “This is what he does for fun”.
Fitness fanatic Ben Pennington, 30, was knocked unconscious when he cracked his head on a bar top after being floored by complete stranger Tony Parsons, 29.
He fell into a coma for days after the nightclub attack and surgeons had to remove the front of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain – a procedure that saved his life.
Heartbreaking photos of Ben were released by his devastated dad Mark Pennington showing him laid up in a hospital bed connected to several monitors and tubes.
He could also be seen wearing a neck brace and had a machine to help him breathe as he fought for his life following the unprovoked attack in October 2016.
The family had been warned that if Ben, described as a ‘gentle giant’, survived, he might have to stay in hospital for up to 18 months.
But remarkably five weeks after his brush with death, Ben managed to recover and was well enough to go home.
Thug Parsons, of Darwen, was yesterday (Thurs) jailed for three years and eight months after being found guilty of unlawful wounding following a trial at Preston Crown Court.
Ben’s father, Mark, boss of the family bakery business in Bamber Bridge and Walton-le-Dale, believes justice has now been served.
He said: “We’re very pleased. We were pleasantly surprised.
“The sentence could have been more but I’ve been told it’s quite a chunky sentence for that crime.
“I thought he was going to walk from it.
“We have always known who [the attacker] was. This is what he does for fun.”
Ben was felled with just one punch at around 3am after visiting the Level One nightclub in Darwen with a friend.
He hit his head on the bar as he fell and underwent five hours of surgery in the Royal Preston Hospital, Lancs., after doctors discovered two bleeds on the brain.
The recovery process has been a tough one, with Mark saying Ben has suffered from self-confidence and personality changes because of the trauma.
“He’s doing okay but has issues. He’s at counselling because he gets stressed. He’s lost his sense of smell and taste. His hearing isn’t as good as it was,” he explained.
“[But] he’s still only 30. It could have been a lot worse. He could have been in a wheelchair dribbling.”
The aftermath of the attack has also hit the family business, Pennington’s Bakery and Sandwiches, hard with the Bamber Bridge branch closing its doors.
“It’s caused us problems,” Mark explained, who runs it with his wife and Ben’s mum, Nikki Pennington.
“We lost one of our businesses through it. It was put into administration. We struggled for a good year trying to hang on to it. It’s been very trying.”
To this day Ben still requires regular care as a result of the attack – showing the extent of the damage caused by Parsons.
Mark added: “Ben now does Jiu-Jitsu four to five times a week. He’s just getting on with his life.”
Det Con Alison Tipping, from the police’s public protection unit, said: “As a result of this attack – which was completely unprovoked – a man’s life has been changed forever.
“He spent weeks on critical care and had to have surgery to his skull.
“He is, fortunately, making a good recovery – better than was expected by medical staff, but he continues to have ongoing issues.
“Throughout this time, Parsons has shown no remorse and has sought only to protect himself.
“Our thoughts remain with the victim and his family and I hope today’s sentence brings them some sense of justice after such a horrific attack.”