Kentish Town man jailed for ‘cowardly’ attack which left sports journalist in a coma

James Flanagan was jailed for the assault

James Flanagan was jailed for the assault - Credit: Archant

A Kentish Town man has been jailed for a “sustained, cowardly and vicious” attack which left a top sports journalist in a coma.

Victim Gary Carter

Victim Gary Carter - Credit: social media

James Flanagan, 35, attacked freelance rugby league reporter Gary Carter, 36, a freelance rugby league reporter.

Flanagan, of Marsden Street, was jailed for two years after admitting grievous bodily harm on November 5 last year.

Mr Carter was covering a game at the Olympic Stadium and had stopped off at the Star of Bethnal Green pub when a brief confrontation broke out between the two.

Mr Carter remained polite and calm throughout.

The two men crossed paths again outside the pub shortly before 1am.

Two paramedics parked nearby saw Flanagan punch Mr Carter to the side of his head before Mr Carter tried to walk away.

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Flanagan’s friend, Niall Dougherty, stood between them and encouraged the two to shake hands.

But as he offered his hand, Flanagan launched a number of “big punches” to his unsuspecting victim and his head made a sickening crack as he hit the ground.

Flanagan continued to shout at his victim, even as paramedics tended to him.

Mr Carter was rushed to the Royal London Hospital suffering from bleeding on the brain, fractures to his skull.

The attack left Mr Carter with a “severe traumatic brain injury” but despite suffering a cardiac arrest in November he is now making “slow and steady” progress through rehabilitation.

Flanagan claims he is “desperately sorry” for the attack and was “visibly moved” to hear that the popular reporter had been making progress in his recovery.

Judge David Radford told Flanagan: “On that night in November you were responsible for a sustained, cowardly and vicious assault causing life-threatening and life-long injuries.

“A significant feature of your violence is that after you delivered the first punch to your unsuspecting victim, Mr Carter, you then despicably approached him, deceiving him verbally and by your face, by holding out your hand out your hand so that the confrontation you had engineered was over and that an honest hand shake would take place.”

And he added: “It is heart-breaking to hear what you put through his family, let alone him, by what you did.”