Man lost eye in attack by boxer in Bellshill

Court heard attack led to victim John O'Donnell losing an eye.
Court heard attack led to victim John O'Donnell losing an eye.

A man lost the sight in his eye after a ‘shocking and sustained’ attack by a champion boxer nearly 30 years his junior in Bellshill.

Christopher Buchanan was jailed for a year at Hamilton Sheriff Court today and was told only a prosecution error had saved him from a much longer stretch behind bars.

Buchanan (27), of Amethyst Avenue, Bellshill, admitted assaulting John O’Donnell, now 56, to his severe injury and permanent impairment in Crofthead Crescent, Bellshill, in October 2012.

The court heard Mr O’Donnell lost consciousness after he was punched and kicked repeatedly on the head and body.

Buchanan, a former British amateur boxing champion, also admitted assaulting Mr O’Donnell’s stepdaughter Christine McCahon to her severe injury. She fell during a struggle and was punched and kicked repeatedly on the head and body.

Sheriff Shiona Waldron added a month to the sentence after Buchanan admitted breaching bail by failing to turn up in court for trial in August this year.

She said she was ‘deeply unimpressed’ that he had gone abroad for a holiday at the time.

Defence agent Alan Murray said his client had intended to travel home early, but could not afford the price of a standby flight.

The attack on Mr O’Donnell followed a charity function at The Orb in Bellshill. It was in memory of a woman the victim and Buchanan were related to.

Mr Murray said it had been an ‘emotional’ night for those involved and too much drink had been taken.

The solicitor said Buchanan felt ‘guilt, shame and remorse’ for what he had done and the ‘dreadful’ consequences for Mr O’Donnell.

His client has no other cases outstanding and is looking forward to become a father early next year.

Buchanan was originally prosecuted on indictment and stood trial before a jury last year.

However, that was halted for legal reasons and the case was brought again under summary procedure where the penalties are less harsh.

Sheriff Waldron told Buchanan: “You don’t need me to tell you this was a shocking incident. These were sustained assaults on two victims, one of whom sustained a life-changing injury - the loss of an eye.

“You have benefited from an error on behalf of the prosecution which prevented the continuation of this case on indictment.

“The sentence might otherwise have been five times higher. The limit of my powers is 12 months.”

Adding one month for his failure to appear earlier, the sheriff went on: “I’m deeply unimpressed by your decision to go on holiday rather than be in court, particularly given the length of time the proceedins had already taken.”

More from the court in the Times & Speaker, on sale now.