Man jailed for causing brain damage

28 January 2011, 05:50 | Updated: 10 February 2011, 14:45

On a night out in Luton, Samir Patel suffered 'catastrophic' brain injuries as a result of being punched by a man who should have been at home under a curfew.

Grant Melia, 30, had the curfew imposed as part of a punishment for an offence of common assault. But he broke it when he was out in Luton in the early hours of Sept 20 2009, a court has heard.

A Judge said that Melia was 'trying to impress' two girls that he could sort out a problem they had with a friend of Mr. Patel's, and ended up punching him once that knocked him to the ground.

The outcome was that the 35 year old victim struck his head on the pavement causing permanent life changing injuries. His consultant said he was lucky to be alive.

Mr. Patel from Luton, who had worked at Harrods and in the jewellery trade, gave evidence to Luton Crown Court with the assistance of an intermediary.

He said he could remember nothing about the assault, but the jury at Luton Crown Court could see how much smaller he was than Melia, who was claiming he struck out in self defence.

Melia, from Southwood Road, Dunstable pleaded not guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm, but was convicted by an all male jury on Thursday by a majority of 11-1. It was his second trial, as a previous jury had been unable to reach a verdict.

He then pleaded guilty to an unrelated offence of handling an £18,000 stolen Range Rover and was jailed for a total of four and a half years.

Judge Richard Foster told him: "Your victim is very seriously brain damaged and will be for the rest of his life and that is the consequence of the assault you unlawfully inflicted. You were on a curfew at the time and should not have been out at all.

"I accept you did not intend those catastrophic injuries. They were not caused by the punch but by the fall to the pavement. They were life threatening injuries."

The court was also told that Melia had a previous conviction for causing grievous bodily harm for which he was jailed for 14 months in August 2005

Simon Ash, prosecuting told the jury that Melia became involved in the dispute outside Sammy's kebab shop in Wellington Street, Luton, which could be seen on cctv footage.

But then he beckoned Mr. Patel to follow him round the corner, where there were no cameras.

The two young women then saw Mr. Patel on the ground bleeding from his mouth and ear. He had suffered a fractured skull and bleeding from the brain and was taken to the Royal Free Hospital for emergency surgery.

Melia claimed in a statement to police and before the jury that he had gone round the corner on his own to urinate and Mr. Patel had followed him and threatened to stab him before lunging towards him. He claimed he struck one blow to prevent himself being attacked.

Stuart Sprawson, defending said: "He knows he is going to receive a sentence of a number of years. He has every sympathy for the consequences for Mr Patel and will feel responsibility for that for the rest of his life."