‘Cowardly’ South Yorkshire thug sent to jail

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The girlfriend of a dad-of-two disabled by an assault in South Yorkshire says his life will never be the same again.

But Julie Darby said she was ‘very happy’ at the two years and eight months handed to ‘coward’ Paul Oakden, who felled her boyfriend Iain Eldridge with a single punch.

Iain, aged 36, is unlikely ever to return to work as a gas fitter because of the devastating brain injury caused when his head hit the pavement in Bawtry town centre, Doncaster, minutes after midnight on January 1.

Julie, 40, said after the case: “Oakden is just a thug. I’m glad he’s off the streets and can’t do this to anyone else.”

Iain is awaiting surgery to fit a titanium plate to his skull. Back at home in Auckley, he has limited mobility, is in a wheelchair, and has to wear a helmet to protect his vulnerable skull.

Doncaster Crown Court was told Julie chased after Oakden following the attack, and used the high heel of her shoe to hit him but he escaped.

It was another six days before Oakden, 21, of Kingswood Close, Bawtry, admitted what he had done following a manhunt which attracted national publicity.

Judge Peter Kelson QC told Oakden: “You wrecked the life of another human being.”

Det Chief Insp Steve Whittaker said the case should be a lesson to all. “The consequences of senseless violence can be drastic.” he said.