Man paralysed after lifelong pal pushed him over for ‘spare change prank’ in pub

A man who pushed his lifelong pal over a silly pub prank caused him 'catastrophic' injuries from which he will never recover, a court heard today.

Paul Gill, 51, shoved his mate 55-year-old Billy Crawford because he didn't see the funny side of a prank in the bar in which they were regulars, in Bury, Greater Manchester, reports Manchester Evening News.

Prosecutor Lisa Boocock told Minshull Street Crown Court: "It was a joke among regulars that if anyone failed to put their change away [after visiting the bar] it would be knocked out of their hand.

"It was an accepted joke in the premises."

But Mr Gill took umbrage to the gag because he was with his partner "and didn't think it was appropriate".

The court was shown CCTV of the fateful shove, minutes after Gill had the change slapped out of his hand.

"Whatever led to the heightening of your anger, within a moment or two you delivered a forceful push to the back of Mr Crawford," the prosecution said.

"In this split second, Mr Crawford's life and no doubt your own, changed forever."

Mr Gill was spared an immediate prison sentence after admitting causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Crawford, who spent a month in hospital unable to walk, or go to the toilet unaided.

He required multiple X-rays, CT and MRI scans before doctors were able to diagnose a 'spinal cord contusion'.

By November 2020, a month after the incident, Mr Crawford was able to walk around 10 metres but his upper body remains paralysed.

He has been unable to work and his wife has also had to give up her job to become his full-time carer, the court heard.

Describing the effect of his injuries, Miss Boocock said Mr Crawford 'doesn't want to speak to anyone, friends or family'.

"All his life he has provided for his family, his wife has always worked but she's now his full-time carer and he is completely dependent on her," said Miss Boocock.

"He was such a proud man and he's found it very difficult.

"He says 'all I do is go from the the bed to the couch, I've lost all motivation, it upsets me to think of the impact my health has had on my wife'."

Mr Crawford has lost all income and has had to use savings to carry on paying bills, the court heard.

He believes he has lost around £10,000 since the incident.

"The man responsible used to be a friend," Miss Boocock said.

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Indeed, the two had been friends for 'many, many years', said Judge Angela Nield, and had attended one another's weddings and been on holiday together.

Mr Crawford remains 'extremely angry' and doesn't think Gill appreciates the full impact of what he has done, the court heard.

Claire Brocklebank, defending, said in the months after the incident, Gill attempted to apologise by sending a message on Facebook to Mr Crawford's son.

He did not get a reply and was then advised not to contact the victim once he was subject to a criminal investigation, the court was told.

Judge Nield said if Gill had intended to cause the victim such 'catastrophic' injuries he would have been facing a lengthy term in prison.

However, she said it was 'difficult to see how anyone could have predicted the consequences' of Gill's actions.

"It was a simple push, it was ill-thought, it was reckless, but there was no thought that there would be such catastrophic results."

Gill was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and told to carry out 280 hours unpaid work.

He must also pay Mr Crawford £15,000 in compensation at a rate of £500 a month.

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