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A single blow to the head: how just one punch can kill

Many of us will have seen in the news last week the conviction of Richard Eveleigh who tragically and undoubtedly unintentionally caused the death of one of his lifelong friends, Paul Lightowler when he threw a punch following a row after a football match.

The two men had been to see Liverpool’s defeat in the Europa League Cup Final in May, what followed was described as a silly row. Richard Eveleigh hit Paul Lightowler who fell backwards, hit his head and died of his injuries nine days later.

The press coverage indicates that they had been friends for 45 years and that following Mr Lightowler’s death, the men’s families remain exceptionally close. Mr Lightowler’s family urged the Judge not to send Mr Eveleigh to prison.

The sad case spurred on the local newspaper, the Liverpool Echo, to publish a piece on other one punch killers who have given a fatal blow to highlight the issue.

Later in the week, news broke of the assault which had taken place at a UKIP meeting in Brussells. Steve Woofle collapsed hours after being struck during an altercation following a meeting of the party and was hospitalised. Unlike Mr Lightowler and despite fears of a brain injury, he is doing well.

I was struck reading both of these items in the press in one week. This highlights how dangerous a single punch to the head can be. It doesn’t matter whether harm was intended. The MEP involved in the fracas, Mr Woolfe may not realise how lucky he is.

I am acutely aware of the dangers of throwing a single punch, a single blow to the head, from the many cases which I have dealt with where individuals have been assaulted.

One particular case which I dealt with last year arose from very similar circumstances; my client was standing outside a club on the pavement, he was assaulted, punched once to the head, he fell struck his head and whilst he survived, he suffered a life changing brain injury which will impact upon him and his wider family for the rest of his life. You can read his case study here.

We were able to pursue a Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) claim for him and happily secured the maximum award available of £500,000.00 which, whilst it doesn’t right the wrong and it doesn’t mean life will ever be the same again, it does give this family some choices in terms of resources to fund treatment and to access services which can assist the injured person.

How much better it would be if these tragic cases could be avoided. I hope that cases like this highlight to those who have never had the misfortune to be touched by the impact of a brain injury, to realise the potential implications of a moment’s indiscretion in throwing a punch, the results of which can last a lifetime.

Channel 4 have commissioned Raw TV to produce cutting edge documentary film, One Punch and Channel 5 have already shown a documentary, One Punch Killers, exploring the issue.

Moments after initially posting this blog post, I read yet another story from Australia. A jogger killed a father-of-seven with a single punch on a Brisbane street then continued on his morning run before coming back to abuse his victim. This is truly shocking stuff and shows the sickening behaviour of some people.