'Dangerous man when provoked' broke jaw of colleague on Wrexham building site

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Court Reporter

A construction worker punched a work colleague in the face, breaking his jaw in two places.

Colin Roberts, of St Giles Crescent, Wrexham, was told by a judge that he was a “dangerous” man when provoked.

Judge Niclas Parry said that he accepted that there had been some verbal provocation.

He gave Roberts, 31,a suspended prison sentence, but ordered him to pay his victim £1,000 in compensation.

Judge Parry warned that one punch could kill.

Prosecuting barrister Anna Pope said the defendant and victim Stephen Clayton were last June labourers working together on a construction site at Wrexham and there had been no previous issues between them.

On June 16 Mr Clayton asked the defendant to empty a wheelbarrow and the defendant said in reply he could not be bothered doing so.

Mr Clayton made a comment describing him as lazy.

In response Roberts walked straight up to him and punched him to the jaw.

His helmet came off his head and he immediately felt a pins and needles sensation to his face.

He felt angry and told the defendant: “If you have broken my jaw, you are dead”.

But Roberts said that he had not hit him hard enough to break his jaw and offered his hand.

The complainant refused to shake his hand, his condition started to deteriorate and those with him became concerned as he slipped in and out of consciousness.

He was taken by ambulance to hospital at Wrexham and he was described as being in extreme pain when transferred to Glan Clwyd Hospital at Bodelwyddan.

His face was swollen and it was found that he had a two sided fracture of the lower jaw.

Teeth had to be removed, he underwent surgery and a plate had to be inserted to fix the right fracture. That plate would be there permanently.

Miss Pope said there was no surgical intervention for the left side fracture.

He remained in hospital for a couple of days, was discharged with painkillers and antibiotics, and he could not eat solid food for between eight and 10 weeks.

In a victim impact statement he told how he had lost confidence, he had lost wages, he feared being assaulted again and he felt he was unable to play with his grandchildren.

The court heard that Roberts, of St Giles Crescent in Wrexham, had previous convictions for 12 offences – including an ABH and three common assaults.

Judge Parry told the defendant: “You are, and your previous convictions show it, a violent man.

“When you are provoked, you are dangerous. There was provocation here, verbal provocation.

“But yours was a gross over-reaction.

“It shows the danger you pose. People die because they have been punched once.”

Judge Parry said he accepted that Roberts had not intended to cause significant injuries.

“Perhaps you didn’t expect to, but you still caused him a very serious injury.”

It had affected his work and his family life.

The judge warned Roberts that the starting point for such an offence was a year and a half in custody, but it could go up to three years.

His case was aggravated by his previous convictions.

But he had pleaded guilty, was a hard working man, his remorse was genuine and he had not been in any trouble since 2013.

A 16-month prison sentence was suspended for two years and Roberts was ordered to carry out 250 hours unpaid work, together with £1,000 compensation.

Defending barrister Dafydd Roberts said that his client was a hard worker who now worked for a gardening company which had provided him with a reference.

The defendant, he said, had shown genuine remorse for what he had done.

He worked between five and seven days a week, but would clearly give priority to completing his unpaid work.

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