‘One punch ruined our son’s life’ - Great Yarmouth assault victim left with half a skull
12:43 18 June 2013
This is the shocking picture which a Norfolk family hopes will warn others of the devastating impact a single punch can have on someone’s life.
Qualified bar manager Michael Evans, 28, had his hands in his pockets when an amateur boxer landed a blow to his head on a night out in Great Yarmouth.
The Stanley Road resident spent three weeks in a coma at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, and his parents did not know if he would live or die.
Mr Evans pulled through but suffered severe brain damage, leaving him unable to use a knife or fork or even write his own name.
As his 21-year-old attacker Daniel Brzozowski was jailed for three years, Mr Evans’ family released this picture of their son in hospital.
Barrister warns of consequences of assaults
A leading barrister has warned of the consequences of late night drunken assaults on both victims and perpetrators after his client was jailed for three years for leaving another man brain-damaged.
Daniel Brzozowski, 21, appeared at Norwich Crown Court for sentencing yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Michael Evans in Yarmouth town centre last November.
Prosecutor Chris Youell said Mr Evans nearly died from the unprovoked attack and spent three months in hospital.
He cannot work and needs constant care from his mother and stepfather.
Mr Evans was walking away from trouble with his hands in his pockets when he was punched in the head by Brzozowski, an amateur boxer.
Brzozowski, from Albany Road, Yarmouth, ran off but was later arrested by police after they traced his movements on CCTV.
Afterwards, Brzozowski’s barrister, Ross Burrows said: “This single punch in drink will haunt Daniel for many years, if not the rest of his life.
“This is a prime example of why a message needs to be sent out to those in drink, especially the younger section of our society.”
The court heard that the attack happened near the Wilco store around midnight on November 24 last year.
Mr Evans, 28, from Stanley Road, Yarmouth, was knocked out, and hit his head on the payment when he fell to the ground. He was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, where a CT scan revealed he had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, bleeding on the brain, and a broken jaw.
Mr Burrows said: “He misjudged the situation and felt threatened. It will stay with him for the rest of his life. He has not been out since and does not drink. It was a moment of madness.”
Recorder Mark Dennis told Brzozowski: “It was yobbish, violent behaviour, late at night, when in drink. It was a life-changing event for the victim, who will never be the same person again.
“You know how to punch and how to hurt someone, and you know the consequences of a heavy punch.”
Their hope is that the image will highlight how a single action can devastate an entire family and the dangers of drink.
And they have warned that violence while in drink can have tragic consequences that last forever.
Brzozowski was jailed for three years at Norwich Crown Court yesterday, but Mr Evans’ mother Linda Etheridge feels justice has not been served. “It’s disgusting,” said the 50-year-old. “He took my son’s life.
“He’s walking round at the moment with half a skull. I have to take him where he wants to go. He can’t go anywhere by himself.”
And she fears her son may never be able to work again. “His right hand can’t work at the moment but he’s practising with the XBox controller,” said Mrs Etheridge. “He can’t use a knife and fork or a pen.
“We’ve only just been able to get him to go out, up town. He would freak out. He was always out with his mates before – he liked pool and nights out.”
She said his memory is now so poor he could not recognise his two-year-old niece when she visited him.
And his behaviour can be erratic, leaving him vulnerable.
“Michael is a different lad completely,” she revealed. “The way he talks is different, his laugh is different. It’s probably hit his younger brother the hardest.”
She added he can remember some things from before the attack, but many of them are “jumbled” and he has developed a shorter temper.
“He puts things down then thinks people have taken them,” she explained. “He remembers places he used to go and places he used to work. He used to work at a hotel in Essex and he remembers it like yesterday.
“But he couldn’t tell you what he did yesterday.”
Mr Evan’s father Andy said the last seven months have been “hell”.
“Nobody could tell us if he was going to live or die,” said the 60-year-old. “It was constant stress.
“Basically he woke up in January and thought it was November.”
Mr Evans is due to have a titanium plate fitted in his skull on June 27, but his parents are taking things day by day. “Hopefully there will be a bit more improvement then, but really they can’t tell us,” he added. “It’s all in the lap of the gods.”
He is still struggling to walk, as he has a fused hip and had learned a special way of coping with it before the attack. And Mr Etheridge said the tragedy has placed a burden on the whole family.
“He’s a 28-year-old 12-year-old at the moment,” he said. “He has no memory of the incident and he has no idea of what this guy looks like or anything. The past seven months have turned our lives upside down. It’s been hell. What they don’t take into account when they go into court is the impact right across the family and his close-knit friends who are like family. If we weren’t so strong it could have divided us.”
Mr Etheridge attended yesterday’s court hearing and has seen the CCTV footage of his son being “pole-axed”.
Looking stony-faced, he said of the three-year jail sentence: “It’s what I expected. He was charged with it being GBH without intent as it was one punch. I don’t think it’s right, but I suppose that’s the law.”
And as his family adjust to life after the attack, they have hailed family and friends at the Ladyhaven pub in Cobholm for their support.
Mrs Etheridge said: “I would like to thank his friends for being there.
“A lot would have backed off, but his close circle of friends have been there for us.” She expressed her gratitude to Rachel, Lindsay, Josh, Boswell, Gemma, Michael Howard and everyone at the pub.