Horror attack by drunken thug left stranger’s jaw broken

Mitchelll Blacklaw
Mitchelll Blacklaw

A thug who smashed a scaffolder’s jaw in two places in a frenzied, unprovoked attack outside a Burnley pub was spared jail.

Trainee electrician Ashley Allen (22) hit Mitchell Blacklaw in the face from the side, got him in a headlock and repeatedly punched him in the mouth outside The Turf in Yorkshire Street on August 15th.

Mr Blacklaw (25) who was a stranger to Allen, was left bleeding and in agony, feeling like his “jaw was hanging down” and with crumbling teeth. He underwent an operation on the fractures.

Allen, father of a young child, told the probation officer he felt sick thinking about what he had done, wanted to apologise and deserved to be punished.

The hearing was told Allen has a record for assault, affray and racially aggravated insulting words or behaviour and the judge told him if he was violent again, he may well be classed as a dangerous offender.

The defendant, of Settle Terrace, Burnley, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm. He was given 12 months in jail, suspended for two years, with a 35-day rehabilitation activity requirement and ordered to pay £750 compensation and £350 costs.

Jon Close (prosecuting) said Mr Blacklaw was out with his partner and friends. They were drinking at The Turf and at 11-45pm went to the rear smoking area.A large group of men, between about 10 and 15 of them, were outside. Mr Blacklaw started talking to someone he knew and was attacked by Allen, who he did not know.

Mr Close said the victim felt a blow to his face and he was then held in a headlock and repeatedly hit. Mr Blacklaw’s group intervened and pushed Allen away.

Mr Blacklaw, whose blood was everywhere, later underwent surgery under general anaesthetic for open reduction and fixation using bone plates and also had immobilisation of the jaw. He had to have soft food afterwards, was off work for four weeks, had to return early as he could not survive on the £89 a week and then had to take more time off for hospital appointments. He made a victim impact statement in November and said he will probably never have a night out in Burnley again.

Mr Blacklaw also suffered ongoing toothache. Some teeth started to crumble but he was unable to afford dental treatment and his mouth didn’t close as it did, leaving his jaw feeling uncomfortable.

Adam Watkins, in mitigation, said: “This is a troubling case. This is a young man who is accruing something of a record for offences of violence.” The barrister continued: “He says he personally can’t remember what it was that caused him to behave in that way.”

Mr Watkin said the defendant had come to court “fearing and frankly expecting an immediate custodial sentence”.Allen had been training as an electrician. Mr Watkin added if the defendant wasn’t sent to custody, he would know he was in the “last chance saloon”.

Sentencing, Recorder Harry Narayan told Allen: “This, I find, was an unprovoked attack, causing grave injuries. I take the view punching a person whilst in a headlock is a seriously aggravating feature. It appears that in drink, you do react violently, as you have done on three separate occasions.”