A MAN has been jailed after he punched another male leaving him with a life changing brain injury.

Ben Davies, aged 24, of Devonshire Avenue in Cheltenham, appeared at Gloucester Crown Court on Tuesday, July 4 where he was sentenced to two years and four months in prison.

The court heard how police had been called to Regent Street in Cheltenham at 1.15am on Sunday, April 24, 2022 after it was reported that 27-year-old James Howard-Jones had been found unconscious outside 21 Club and had sustained injuries to his head.

James was taken to Southmead Hospital in Bristol where it was found that he had sustained a major brain injury. 

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: A recent photograph of James Howard-Jones A recent photograph of James Howard-Jones (Image: Glos Police)

He remained in a critical condition for a number of months and is now receiving treatment at a specialist brain injury rehabilitation centre.

Officers made extensive enquiries in the weeks following James’ assault before identifying Davies as a potential suspect.

He was arrested after enquiries showed that he had punched James then left the scene, communicated with friends, tried to delete messages and changed his clothing.

Davies was subsequently charged with section 20 grievous bodily harm without intent. 

He appeared before Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, June 6 and gave a guilty plea.

In a victim impact statement James’ father Neil detailed the impact Davies’ actions has had on them saying: “As a result of what happened to James, he's unable to provide this statement. 

"I need to be James' voice, so that the court understands the impact that this incident has had on him, along with his family and close friends.

“Within the first couple of weeks after the incident, we were told by the doctors treating James that he was 'brain dead' and that the kindest thing would be to let James die.

"I was being asked horrible questions that no parent should ever be asked, such as whether I was willing to let the doctors remove his tracheostomy tube.

“This was the hardest decision of my life, I agreed based on what l was being told by the experts, and arrangements were made to harvest James' organs for donation.

"We were told that this could wait a little while, so I suggested we left it a week in order to allow friends and family to say goodbye. 

"The stress to all James's friends, family and myself was enormous.

“Incredibly, against what the experts were telling me, James went onto regain consciousness.

"Initially he was only able to give eye contact and was unable to move or speak.

“Slowly, his condition improved to the point where was he moved to a brain rehabilitation unit, however returned to hospital on several occasions following seizures and various infections.

“James continues to make slow and gradual progress with his cognition, communication and mobility, however I'm under no illusion that his brain damage is long-term and professionals caring for him have told me that he will require some level of care for the rest of his life.”

Detective constable Ed Garlick from the Criminal Investigation Department said: "This incident demonstrates just how fragile we are and the devastating effect that one punch can have.

"It’s a time of mixed emotion as everyone involved in the investigation is really pleased Davies has been sentenced, but this will never be enough to make up for the way James’ life has been changed, along with the lives of his family and close friends.

“I would like to highlight the quick thinking actions of members of the public, door staff, police officers and paramedics who came to James’ aid, provided witness statements on what they saw and responded to our multiple witness and CCTV appeals in the weeks following the assault.”

In his sentencing remarks Judge Picton said: "On April 24 last year, you destroyed the life and hopes of James Howard-Jones.

"He was just 28 years of age when you did so – a young man in the prime of  life with everything to live for.

"At the same time you broke the hearts of his family and friends.

"You will serve your sentence and be released.

"He will never be released from what you have done to him and neither will those who love him."