Man broke victim’s spine over dispute

Benjamin Howley, 41, of St John's Walk, Bridlington
Benjamin Howley, 41, of St John's Walk, Bridlington

A demolition supervisor punched a man so hard the fall broke his spine in three places, leaving him in constant pain and needing surgery to repair.

Benjamin Howley, 41, saw red when a man at a drinks party accused him of once being responsible for stealing items from his father’s garage.

Howley had 22 convictions mostly before the age of 24, but the last one was in 2008 for possession of drugs.

Howley grew sick of the repeated taunting, lashing out to fell the man after four punches, knocking him to the floor. The man went home, only to realise he was more seriously injured than he thought from the New Year’s party in Bridlington.

Howley, of St John’s Walk, Bridlington, appeared at Hull Crown Court for sentence (March 16) after pleading guilty to one charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

Crown barrister Stephen Welch said Howley had confessed: “I lost control and punched him three times causing him to fall back in to the door way.”

He denied following it up with any further kicking or punches on the floor.

Mr Welch said the man had suffered from a degenerative arthritic condition and three parts of his spine were damaged. It required surgery and he was off work.

“He is no longer as active as he used to be,” said Mr Welch. “At the time he was unable to return to work. He said he feels uneasy going out the house and is worry around strangers, recalling his injuries.”

Defence barrister Paul Norton agreed with the judge who said Howley was now a hardworking family man who was remorseful for his conduct and would lose his job and home if he was jailed.

Sentencing Judge Paul Watson, QC, said: “As a result of what you did, he has been left with a long-term disability. This crosses the custodial threshold. Had it not been a letter from your employer and Mr Deighton it would have been a different outcome.” He ordered Howley should be given a 10-month suspended prison sentence, 200 hours unpaid work and pay £2,000 compensation to his victim.