A FARMER who punched a man outside a pub, causing him a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain, has been spared jail.

Judge Beverley Lunt said John Slone, 46, was extremely lucky he had not killed Elliot Jackson, when he felled him with a single blow on December 15 2017.

Witnesses to the attack, which happened outside the Black Bull at around midnight, said Slone saw Mr Jackson approaching from behind and immediately swung a punch, knocking him to the ground.

They heard Mr Jackson’s head bang on the ground and saw Slone walking away.

In a victim personal statement, Mr Jackson said he recalled very little of the incident, but woke up the following day in agony.

His father took him to the A and E department at Furness General Hospital, where a CT scan revealed he had a fractured skull and a bleed to the brain.

He was transferred to Royal Preston Hospital’s where he was kept under observation.

The day after the attack, Slone, of Green Area, Dalton, contacted police to ask them to check on the welfare of Mr Jackson.

On December 18 he voluntarily attended the police station where he answered no comment to the questions he was asked. He later pleaded guilty to wounding and appeared at Preston Crown Court to be sentenced.

Judge Beverley Lunt said: “Let it be clear: your blow to this young man was unprovoked, unjustified - a pre-emptive strike.

“It may have just been one blow but all you had to do was walk away, leave the scene.

“It is lucky for him and for you that he has made a full recovery, thanks to the medical services and those who looked after him in hospital.

“I have heard about the losses to your business and your personal life - this man nearly lost his life.”

The judge handed Slone a 15 month sentence but said she could suspend it for two months, given Slone has not committed any further offences in the 18 months it has taken to reach a conclusion.

She ordered him to pay £1,870 compensation to Mr Jackson and £500 costs.