Man declared brain dead wakes up just before life support was to be switched off

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A man who was declared brain dead after being punched on a night out woke up just as his life support was about to be switched off.  

James Howard-Jones, 28, remains severely mentally and physically handicapped and will need care for the rest of his life, Gloucester Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

His attacker, Ben Davies, 24, of Cheltenham admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent and was jailed for two years and four months.

Mr Howard-Jones was punched by Davies on April 24 last year on a street in Cheltenham during a night out, the court was told. 

He fell back and hit his head, suffering a life-changing injury that almost killed him.

James Howard-Jones, 28, was declared brain dead after being punched on a night out - but woke up before his life support was switched off

James Howard-Jones, 28, was declared brain dead after being punched on a night out – but woke up before his life support was switched off

His attacker, Ben Davies, 24, of Cheltenham, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent and was jailed for two years and four months

His attacker, Ben Davies, 24, of Cheltenham, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent and was jailed for two years and four months

James Howard-Jones, pictured with his girlfriend Amelia Boskett Williams

James Howard-Jones, pictured with his girlfriend Amelia Boskett Williams

He was taken to hospital where he remained unconscious for several weeks, during which he had several emergency operations. 

Judge Martin Picton told Davies: ‘You’ve destroyed the life and hopes of Mr Howard-Jones – a young man in the prime of life with everything to live for.

‘At the same time, you broke the hearts of his family and friends. The damage you have caused is devastating and lifelong for all those affected by your criminal act.’

While Mr Howard-Jones’s family was considering a request to harvest his organs for transplantation he regained consciousness, the prosecutor said. However his condition has left him physically and mentally disabled.

From being a fit and healthy young athlete capable of competing in a 100km race he had become someone who will require care for the rest of his life, prosecutor Jack Berry said.

‘James is now permanently handicapped in virtually every aspect of his life,’ he added. 

James fell back and hit his head, suffering the life-changing injury which almost killed him

James fell back and hit his head, suffering the life-changing injury which almost killed him

James Howard-Jones, 28, remains severely mentally and physically handicapped

James Howard-Jones, 28, remains severely mentally and physically handicapped

James Howard-Jones is pictured in his Tottenham Hotspur shirt with a letter from the club

James Howard-Jones is pictured in his Tottenham Hotspur shirt with a letter from the club

‘He has insight into his condition – he knows and can appreciate all that he has lost and is understandably subject to severe depression as a consequence.’

His father, Neil Howard-Jones, told the judge: ‘Within the first couple of weeks we were told by the doctors treating James that he was brain dead and the kindest thing we could do was to let him die. 

‘I was asked questions that no parent should ever be asked, such as letting his organs be harvested. We agreed that this should be done and arrangements were being made for transplantation donation.

‘We agreed that this should be delayed for a week so that family and friends could say their goodbyes to James. The stress of this was enormous.

‘Incredibly, despite what the experts had told us, James went on to regain consciousness. Initially he was only able to give eye contact and was unable to move or speak.

James Howard-Jones, pictured with his girlfriend Amelia Boskett Williams

James Howard-Jones, pictured with his girlfriend Amelia Boskett Williams

James was a keen cyclist before he was punched on a night out

James was a keen cyclist before he was punched on a night out

James is pictured in his motorcyclist gear before the incident happened

James is pictured in his motorcyclist gear before the incident happened

James enjoyed going on his motorbike before he suffered the attack on a night out

James enjoyed going on his motorbike before he suffered the attack on a night out

‘Slowly James’s condition improved to a point where he could be moved to a rehabilitation centre. However, he was to return to hospital on several occasions due to a number of seizures. We didn’t know if he would survive or not.

‘At present he needs help in getting out of bed to just go to the toilet. He can use a wheelchair, which he can only use for a number of hours each day due to his fatigue.

‘We are under no illusion James’s brain damage is long term and will require a level of caring for the rest of his life.’

He went on to say that his son’s’ condition has had a significant impact on his family and friends and that his mobility was very limited because of his exhaustion. He is using parallel bars to aid his strength and to begin walking again.

A judge at Gloucester Crown Court (pictured) heard how Mr Howard-Jones was punched by Davies on April 24 last year on a street in Cheltenham during a night out

A judge at Gloucester Crown Court (pictured) heard how Mr Howard-Jones was punched by Davies on April 24 last year on a street in Cheltenham during a night out

The devastated father’s statement concluded: ‘All in all, the future for my son is looking pretty bleak.’

The court heard that Davies was arrested on May 8, 2022, and his mobile phone was seized. It was examined and it was discovered that it contained several internet searches and exchange of messages as Davies tried to establish what sort of trouble he was in.

Nick Murphy, defending, said: ‘Davies’ actions were completely out of character and he now has to live with the consequences. He himself had a difficult upbringing and to his credit he has not offended until now.’

A fundraising page has been set up to help Mr Howard-Jones, and donations can be made here

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