Battered senseless by friend’

GRANT Barham lay in a coma for days after he was kicked, punched and stamped on by a Huntingdon man he had considered a new friend. The drunken, senseless and prolonged attack , which took place in a children s playground, was carried out by Luke Bruce.

GRANT Barham lay in a coma for days after he was kicked, punched and stamped on by a Huntingdon man he had considered a new friend.

The "drunken, senseless and prolonged attack", which took place in a children's playground, was carried out by Luke Bruce.

The 21-year-old tried to cover up his crime by threatening a seven-year-boy who had witnessed the assault and even helped paramedics as they tended his victim.

The attack happened after the men had been drinking together in Huntingdon's Sapley Square at about 10.30pm on December 12 last year.

Mr Barham remained in a coma at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, for a number

of days after the attack and had to learn to walk again during his recovery.

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At Cambridge Crown Court on Thursday, Bruce, who pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent, remained silent as he was told he would be given an indefinite custodial sentence, serving at least three years before being considered for parole.

Prosecutor Sara Walker told the court that witnesses - including the seven-year-old boy - had seen Bruce punch his victim, knocking him into a metal bar and to the ground.

While Mr Barham, 28, was on the floor, Bruce kicked him and jumped on his face, Ms Walker said.

After the initial attack, Bruce returned to the prone Mr Barham at least twice more to inflict further blows.

At one point, he told horrified onlookers he was going back to kill Mr Barham.

After the assault had finished, Bruce fled the scene, but returned to hold a torch for paramedics tending to Mr Barham's injuries.

Initially, Bruce, of Wolff Close, Sapley, told police that a group of four men had attacked Mr Barham and run off.

However, in a subsequent interview, Bruce, who has Tourette's and ADHD, read a prepared statement admitting he was behind the attack.

Mr Barham suffered fractures to bones in his face and had an emergency tracheotomy.

He said he still suffered from severe headaches, memory loss and buzzing noises in his ears.

After the sentencing, Mr Barham, who was living in Coneygear Court at the time of the attack, said: "Three years does not seem a long time considering what he did to me."

Mr Barham said he had met Bruce only three or four times, but thought of him as friendly. He said: "I don't understand why he attacked me. The time I saw him before the attack he had given me a few cans of beer and some money for tobacco - he seemed like a nice guy."

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth told Bruce: "You very nearly took the life of a friend of yours in a drunken, senseless and prolonged attack - even returning to his unconscious body for a few more blows.

"He [Barham] was in a coma for days and has suffered long-term consequences.

"For public protection, the minimum period you will serve before being considered for parole is three years."

Bruce, who has a string of convictions for criminal damage and theft dating back to 2000, was also sentenced to nine months for an unrelated house burglary, to run concurrently.

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