AN ARMED thug who smashed a promising young footballer over the head with a hammer – leaving him in a temporary coma – has been jailed for five and a half years.
The single, swinging blow struck by Brian Moore, split victim Liam McDonagh’s head open in front of shocked family and friends and left the former semi-professional Uxbridge FC goalkeeper crumpled on the floor in a pool of his own blood in High Street, Wealdstone.
Just hours earlier, 18-year-old Liam and his relatives and girlfriend had been in buoyant mood celebrating his mother Paula’s 50th birthday party in the Shanakee pub down the road.
Moore was sentenced on Friday last week at Harrow Crown Court by recorder Jonathan Mann, who warned him he could have easily have killed the former A-level student at Whitmore High School, who works at Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium.
The court heard that on the evening of February 15 there had been ‘bickering’ in the venue between one of the partygoers and Moore and his friend. Moore became extremely aggressive and was heard by witnesses shouting: “I’m going to get a weapon.”
The 31-year-old left to collect the claw hammer from either a parked car or nearby home, then returned to confront Mr McDonagh while he was walking home to Long Elmes, Harrow, with close relatives.
Mr McDonagh, the judge accepted, headbutted Moore, then the defendant took the claw hammer from his back pocket and hit him on the head before fleeing on foot.
Mr Mann said during sentencing: “I do not accept this was a case of excessive self-defence.
“Mr McDonagh was in hospital for a week following the attack in a great deal of pain. He’s been feeling dizzy and light-headed and he can’t work or play football for six months. He’s lost two and a half stone.
“The effect on his life has been considerable, and is continuing.
“This was an extremely serious offence. You should be thankful the victim didn’t suffer more serious injuries or permanent injuries or even death.”
Mr McDonagh suffered a depressed skull fracture that required surgery. He was in a coma and in intensive care for about a week before being discharged.
The court heard he has been put on light duties only by his employer and has had to give up football as the risk of another head injury is too great.
Moore, a full-time father to a boy and a girl, earlier admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of an offensive weapon. He was sentenced to five years and three months’ imprisonment for the first count and a concurrent one-year jail term for the second, less the 60 days’ he had spent on an electronically-tagged curfew.
Moore, of Dickson House, Lemsford Road, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, who already had convictions for common assault and battery, was ordered to pay £120 victim surcharge but no court costs or compensation.
Members of the McDonagh family in the public gallery shouted ‘childbeater’ and ‘scum’ as Moore was led away.
n See page three for family’s reaction