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Man died after sustaining a brain injury from a single punch attack
On the 17th May 2017 our client, Paul Stewart, was involved in an altercation during which he received a blow to the chin and fell backwards sustaining catastrophic head injuries.
As a result of the injuries he sustained, he was left in a minimally conscious state and died at the Priory Highbank on the 4th June 2019.
During an inquest into his death last month, the family heard how the 53-year-old was never able to give police an account of what happened on the night of the argument.
The Coroner criticised the evidence of the man who attacked Mr Stewart as well as the investigation by the police. She found there was not enough evidence to support an unlawful killing conclusion and so recorded an open verdict.
After the hearing, Elaine Stewart, one of Paul’s sisters said:
Almost five years ago, Paul’s life effectively ended when he was knocked unconscious by a single devastating punch and never recovered. For two years prior to his death, we had to witness him lying in a minimally conscious state: unable to see, speak, move or feed himself. Whilst we are relieved that this traumatic ordeal is over, we are still left with unanswered questions and must accept that we will never know what truly happened. Paul never had the chance to tell his side of the story.
Mr Stewart was punched by his neighbour’s boyfriend, Richard Garrick, after a dispute on the street near his home in Prestwich. Mr Garrick gave evidence at the inquest stating he acted in self-defence but, in her concluding remarks, the coroner said she could not Mr Garrick’s evidence as a full and reliable account of what took place. She added how she could not conclude the death had been the result of a lawful or unlawful killing and instead recorded an open verdict.
Hugh Potter, Senior Partner and head of personal injury at Potter Rees Dolan, said:
Only Mr Garrick knows precisely why he punched Paul Stewart. The punch had a devastating effect. His family has consistently challenged Mr Garrick’s insistence that he did so lawfully, out of self-defence. The family is delighted that the senior coroner having heard and considered all the evidence considered Mr Garrick’s evidence as lacking credibility. It is a matter for Greater Manchester Police as to whether any further action is taken against Mr Garrick and anyone else.
Another most unsatisfactory matter for the Stewart family is the derisory compensation payable under the CICA Scheme for victims of crime. The Coroner made reference to the appalling consequences for Paul following the punch: he was in a largely unresponsive state and needed 24 hour specialist nursing support. He also needed a great deal of equipment like wheelchairs and profiling beds and an adapted vehicle. The cost of all this and the other services he needed over his lifetime would have been very substantial indeed and yet the maximum CICA award is a miserable £500,000. If that were not bad enough, as a result of his death, his family is not entitled to that amount and instead will receive only about £12,000 as a bereavement payment and for funeral expenses. The CICA Scheme for serious injuries and death is long overdue a fundamental review.
Hugh Potter is the Senior Partner in personal injury here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about a head injury or indeed any other aspect of personal injury and wish to speak to Hugh or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Hugh directly.