A man who left a popular Peterborough footballer in a coma following an attack outside a city pub has avoided being sent to jail.
Julian Spalding punched Greg Stanley outside the Brewery Tap pub in January last year following a ‘silly’ argument.
Spalding (46) only punched Mr Stanley once - but the impact of the punch, and that of his head hitting the floor - left him in a coma for two days. The court heard he had now made a good recovery.
Today (Monday, February 18) Spalding pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm at a hearing at Cambridge Crown Court.
But despite the injuries caused, Judge David Farrell said he could take an ‘exceptional’ course by suspending the jail sentence because the incident was out of character for the ‘hard working family man’.
Spalding was given a 15-month sentence suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £4,000 compensation and £1,000 costs.
Speaking at court Mr Stanley (35) from Orton Brimbles, said the injuries had a big impact on his life.
He said: “I remember being in the Brewery Tap, and the waking up two days later after I was in a coma.
“I was in hospital for a week. I was off work for two months. I’ve stopped playing football as much - I used to play every Saturday and Sunday but now I play once a month.
“I still get headaches, and have short term memory problems.
“It has also had a big impact on my family. Hopefully now we can move on and put it behind us.”
Mr Stanley also thanked people who had donated during an online campaign to help him after the attack, with the money helping him to go on holiday with his young son.
Raj Joshi, prosecuting, told the court Mr Stanley had gone to the Brewery Tap with his partner when the argument started.
He said: “Greg picked up what he thought was his partner’s coat and bag and went to go.
“A woman came up to him, and said ‘that’s my coat, that’s my bag, why have you picked it up?’
“What had happened was the defendant had placed his coat over the victims’, and that is why he had picked it up.”
Mr Joshi said Mr Stanley left the pub to get a taxi home - but CCTV showed Spalding following.
Spalding then punched Mr Stanley, knocking him to the ground.
The court heard Mr Stanley suffered bruising and bleeding to the brain, and was rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for treatment, and was in a coma for two days.
In police interview Spalding claimed something had been taken from his partner’s bag – but he initially denied the attack.
Claire Matthews, defending, told the court the incident was ‘completely out of character’.
She said: “I have provided character references from two clients who say he is professional and considerate, and that is how he comes across at court.
“He is a hard worker.
“The biggest thing he had had to come to terms with is doing something which is so out of character.”
The court heard he has a 17 year old son, and also his partner had a son with acute learning disabilities - his partner described him as a ‘rock’.
Miss Matthews said: “The fact the victim has made a recovery is comforting to him.”
Sentencing, Judge Farrell said: “This all happened on the night of January 27/28 last year. You were in a public house in Peterborough. You were not drunk, you had had very little to drink.
“It seems you got in a silly argument over picking up a coat which led to you behaving in a way which is completely out of character.”
Judge Farrell said Spalding was lucky Mr Stanley had not suffered more serious injuries - or he could have been facing a much more serious charge.”