Taunts about man's weight triggered attack
A MAN, who has been taunted about his weight for years, admitted grievous bodily harm after he inflicted brain damage on a man who was verbally abusing him.
Christopher Coumis had suffered years of abuse about his size but didn't rise to taunts, Bristol Crown Court heard.
But when yet more jibes were hurled at him, at his father's bar, he punched Mark Pitcher – causing him to fall to the ground and strike his head on the pavement.
The court heard Mr Pitcher suffered brain damage, causing speech difficulties. The court was told he is now making a good recovery.
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Coumis, 20, of Worlebury Park Road, Weston-super-Mare, pleaded guilty to GBH.
Judge Carol Hagen, who read a multitude of glowing testimonials about him, handed him a community order comprising of 300 hours' unpaid work plus £500 court costs.
There was an audible sigh of relief from Coumis' numerous friends and family, and he burst into tears, when the judge told Coumis: "This is not a case for immediate custody.
"This is a serious offence, but you admitted your guilt at the earliest opportunity, you surrendered yourself to police and when you were arrested your first words were 'I just hope he's alright'."
The judge, who concluded Coumis suffered a momentary loss of control on the receiving end of taunts, added that she had never read such good references for a defendant.
She told him: "Many refer to you as a gentle giant."
Mark Hollier, prosecuting, said a group of people aged 18 to 22 had travelled from Dursley by minibus for a night out in Weston-super-Mare and went to Raddy's Bar in Beach Road around 10.30pm.
He said: "There was a private party and they were told their admission was refused. There was no hostility from either the door staff or the group including Mr Pitcher."
Mr Hollier said Coumis was the proprietor's son and he was at the front door when offensive remarks were made at him regarding his weight.
He said: "Mr Pitcher made insulting remarks. Mr Coumis lost his temper. He went up to Mr Pitcher and delivered a single punch. A witness said the sound was like a hammer hitting wood.
"Mr Pitcher collapsed and cracked his head. Mr Coumis went back into the bar."
The court heard the victim was taken to Weston-super-Mare Hospital but transferred to the neurological surgery specialist unit at Frenchay Hospital.
He was operated on almost immediately, to deal with bleeding on the brain, and was kept in an induced coma for nine days.
After spending 24 days in Frenchay he was sent home.
Stephen Kamlish QC, defending, stressed his client had been verbally abused and did not react for several minutes before walking some eight or nine feet and delivering one blow.
Mr Kamlish said Coumis was bullied at school about his weight, but had not reacted.
He said his client worked for charity and was a volunteer rugby coach, and argued that it was not a case for immediate custody.