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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Jail for 'catastrophic' road rage
Victor Turner
Victor Turner suffered "catastrophic harm"
A 34-year-old man has been jailed for five years for an unprovoked road rage attack on a pensioner who clipped his wing mirror.

Swansea Crown Court heard how Victor Turner suffered "devastating" brain damage as a result of the attack.

The court heard that the attacker himself - Paul Richards from Swansea - felt he should be punished.

The judge said he had "never come across a case where a single blow has caused such catastrophic harm".

He thinks he is aged 22. He will have to relearn how to read and write again.
Marlene Turner

The court was told how on 2 April, Mr Turner, from Winchwen, Swansea, was driving along Port Tennant Road. He was on his way to an off-licence to pick up drink for his golden wedding anniversary party planned for two days later.

But, the jury heard, on his way there he accidentally clipped a wing mirror on Richards' van.

Witnesses recalled Mr Turner pulling over, getting out of his car and walking over to Richards' vehicle.

They then saw Richards get out of his car and swear at the pensioner before head butting him with such force that it caused internal bleeding to his brain.

Mr Turner was taken to a specialist head injury unit at Morriston Hospital where doctors operated to remove blood clots.

His wife, Marlene told the court how the attack had left her husband, a retired garage owner, with little memory of the past. She said he now believed he was a single man aged 22, without any children.

Richards admitted a charge of grievous bodily harm but denied a charge of grievous bodily harm with intent.

The court heard that he claimed he thought the pensioner was about to attack him and "got in first".

Marlene and Victor Turner
Marlene and Victor Turner before the attack took place

But a witness said she had seen Richards walk up to Mr Turner with a "face like thunder" before head-butting him.

Sentencing him on Friday, Recorder Mr Rhys Rowlands said he had no difficulty believing that the pensioner was completely blameless.

He did though acknowledge that Richards could not have foreseen the extent of the injuries he caused.

"I have never come across a case where a single blow has caused such catastrophic harm," he said.

"The effect on Mr Turner has been devastating.

"On 2 April Mrs Turner should have been celebrating her golden wedding anniversary. Instead, she was anxiously pacing the corridors of Morriston Hospital not knowing if her husband would survive vital treatment.

"Were it not for the quality of the care Mr Turner received and the skill of the surgical team, he would not be here today.

"You would then have been in the dock facing a charge, on the findings of the jury, of murder."

Speaking after the sentencing, Marlene Turner said she knew her husband would never get involved in road rage and that he was simply walking over to apologise to Richards.

"He was just thinking about the other driver," she said. "All he wanted to do was to say sorry and make sure he was okay.

"It was just a silly wing mirror. Victor would have paid for a new one."

But, she added, she was satisfied with the verdict.

"Richards has three children as well and his family will be affected by all this just as ours has been," she added.

"But I would have liked an apology, I have never had that. When he gets out he will restart his life, but ours is a life sentence."

She explained how two days after the attack she and her husband should have been renewing their wedding vows at the same local church where they married 50 years earlier.

After that, they had planned a party for 240 family and friends.

"I spent the day of our wedding anniversary pacing the corridors of the hospital with my children as he underwent surgery," she said.

"For the first 10 days afterwards we were told he would not survive and even if he did he would not be able to move.

"He was in hospital for seven weeks recuperating afterwards."

Mrs Turner sobbed as she said: "Now he does not remember we are married and that he has children.

"He thinks he is aged 22. He will have to relearn how to read and write again. He was always so fit and healthy, like a man 20 years younger, so it is heartbreaking to see him like this."

She said her husband was now able to stand up and shuffle around on his own, but progress was slow.


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