Attacker jailed following brutal Lancashire nightclub assault that left victim Ben Pennington fighting for his life

In October 2016 Ben Pennington was left in a coma after being assaulted in a Lancashire nightclub. Nearly two years later, dad Mark tells reporter Tom Earnshaw how he is glad to see Ben's attacker put behind bars for the attack that nearly killed his son

Thursday, 16th August 2018, 6:54 pm
Updated Friday, 17th August 2018, 1:10 pm
Left and top right, Ben after the attack.

The dad of a Preston man whose life was left hanging by a thread following an unprovoked nightclub attack said “we’re very happy” after the attacker was put behind bars.

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The life of Ben Pennington, from Walton-le-Dale, was left in the balance after Tony Parsons, 29, of Fore Street, Darwen, hit him in the head with a single punch at Darwen nightclub Level One.

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Left and top right, Ben after the attack.

The attack in October 2016 saw Ben, then 29, hit his head on the bar, knocking him unconscious.

Ben, now 30, fell into a coma for days after the attack and surgeons had to remove the front of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain – a procedure that saved his life.

Speaking to the Post, Ben’s father, Mark Pennington, believes justice has now been served.

He said: “We’re very pleased. We were pleasantly surprised. The sentence could have been more but I’ve been told it’s quite a chunky sentence for that crime. I thought he was going to walk from it.

Ben Pennington from Walton-le-Dale fell into a coma after the attack in October 2016

“We have always known who [the attacker] was. This is what he does for fun.”

The family had been warned that if Ben survived, he might have to stay in hospital for up to 18 months.

But incredibly Ben managed to recover well enough to go home after only five weeks.

The recovery process has been a tough one, with Mark saying that while Ben made a great start, he has suffered with self-confidence and personality changes because of the trauma of the attack.

Tony Parsons, 29, of Fore Street, Darwen, was found guilty of Section 20 wounding and sentenced following a trial at Preston Crown Court. Parsons has been jailed for three years and eight months (Photo: Lancashire Police)

“He’s doing okay but has issues. He’s at counselling because he gets stressed. He’s lost his sense of smell and taste. His hearing isn’t as good as it was,” he explained.

“[But] he’s still only 30. It could have been a lot worse; he could have been in a wheelchair dribbling.”

The aftermath of the attack has also hit the family business, Pennington’s Bakery and Sandwiches, hard – with the Bamber Bridge branch closing its doors.

“It’s caused us problems,” Mark explained, who runs it with his wife and Ben’s mum, Nikki Pennington.

Ben had to have surgery to remove the front of his skull in order to save his life

“We lost one of our businesses through it. It was put into administration.

“We struggled for a good year trying to hang on to it. It’s been very trying.”

The family still runs its other bakery in Walton-le-Dale.

The recovery process is still ongoing and to this day Ben still requires regular care as a result of the attack – showing the extent of the damage caused by Parsons’ attack.

Baker Mark added: “Ben now does Jiu-Jitsu four to five times a week. He’s just getting on with his life.”

Parsons has been jailed for three years and eight months following a trial at Preston Crown Court.

Ben had to have surgery to remove the front of his skull in order to save his life

Court case

Tony Parsons, 29, of Fore Street, Darwen, was found guilty of Section 20 wounding and sentenced following a trial at Preston Crown Court.

Det Con Alison Tipping, of Lancashire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit, said: “As a result of this attack – which was completely unprovoked – a man’s life has been changed forever.

“He spent weeks on critical care and had to have surgery to his skull.

“He is fortunately making a good recovery – better than was expected by medical staff, but he continues to have ongoing issues.

“Throughout this time, Parsons has shown no remorse and has sought only to protect himself.

“Our thoughts remain with the victim and his family and I hope today’s sentence brings them some sense of justice after such a horrific attack.”

Parsons has been jailed for three years and eight months.

Ben four weeks after the attack