Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'Coward' Went to Shake Gary's Hand.Then Left His Life in Ruins ; . ??Thug Jailed for Two Years for Sickening, Unprovoked Attack on Well-Respected Former M.E.N. Journalist Who . ??Thug Jailed for Two Years for Sickening, Unprovoked Attack on Well-Respected Former M.E.N. Journalist Whosuffered Terrible Head Injuries That Left Him Struggling to Hold a Pen - but Who Is Recovering with Loving Family

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'Coward' Went to Shake Gary's Hand.Then Left His Life in Ruins ; . ??Thug Jailed for Two Years for Sickening, Unprovoked Attack on Well-Respected Former M.E.N. Journalist Who . ??Thug Jailed for Two Years for Sickening, Unprovoked Attack on Well-Respected Former M.E.N. Journalist Whosuffered Terrible Head Injuries That Left Him Struggling to Hold a Pen - but Who Is Recovering with Loving Family

Article excerpt

DRUNKEN thug who launched a 'despicable and cowardly' attack which nearly killed a popular sports journalist has been jailed for two years.

James Flanagan, 35, was pretending to shake the hand of Gary Carter when he launched a flurry of sickening blows which knocked him to the ground and caused him to hit his the head on the pavement.

Former M.E.N. journalist Gary, 36, was left with severe head injuries, which a court heard he was lucky to survive - and he still faces a lengthy recovery to regain basic functions.

A judge said the sentence for the crime, which had 'ruined Gary and his family's lives', may seem 'unduly merciful' but said his hands were tied as he hinted Flanagan could have been charged with a more serious offence.

The tragedy unfolded last November when freelance sports reporter Gary, from Stalybridge, was in London covering an England rugby league test match.

He was having a quiet drink in the Star of Bethnal Green pub in East London where Flanagan was celebrating the end of a filming project he had been part of.

The court was told Flanagan's nephew, Daniel Heals, was talking to Gary, who was being friendly and 'keeping himself to himself.' However, thinking he may be irritating him, the bar manager asked Mr Heals to leave him alone and re-join his group.

Lucy Organ, prosecuting, said Flanagan must have taken this as a 'perceived slight' against his nephew.

Later, when first Gary and then Flanagan's group left the pub at around 12.30am, they bumped into each other nearby. Flanagan said: 'Is that him? The one from the pub?' as he approached Gary and punched him in the face.

Ms Organ said Gary was taken aback and began walking away when one of Flanagan's friends suggested they could resolve the situation with a handshake.

As Gary turned around and stretched his hand out Flanagan launched a series of punches both to the face and body.

The Recorder of Redbridge, David Radford, described this as a 'cowardly' and 'despicable' deception, the like of which he had never seen before. Flanagan then hit Gary with an uppercut which knocked him backwards and he hit his head on the pavement.

Two paramedics parked nearby witnessed the whole ordeal and immediately ran to Gary's aid. …

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