Dad forgives the son whose punch left him fighting for life
A FATHER says he has forgiven his son for a drunken punch which left him fighting for his life.
Stephen Cudworth was left in a coma, with bleeding to his brain, following the blow by his 22-year-old son, Lee.
The pair had been drinking together at The King's Head pub, in Hilton, but started arguing once they had left.
After his son punched him Mr Cudworth fell backwards and smashed his head on the ground outside Hilton Village Hall.
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Derby Crown Court was told that medics feared Mr Cudworth would die of his injuries and his son came "a hair's breadth away from a manslaughter charge".
But the 50-year-old recovered and said he and his son had since met and shook hands.
Speaking to the Derby Telegraph after the case, Mr Cudworth, of Darley Abbey Drive, Derby, who separated from his son's mother 10 years ago, said: "I asked if he should be talking to me and he said his bail conditions were up.
"He apologised and was pretty humble about it all.
"I said I don't hold a grudge. I spoke to him twice on the phone last week."
Lee Cudworth was given a suspended jail sentence after the judge said the circumstances were exceptional.
Cudworth said he was "devastated" by his actions and grateful for his father's forgiveness.
He said: "I heard his head crack on the ground and I knew it was bad news. I was devastated. I regretted it straight away.
"I don't even know what the argument was about. I've seen him in Derby and we shook hands. We're both willing to move on."
Mr Cudworth explained that the incident, on March 25, came about when the pair "had words" after leaving the pub.
"He sort of pushed me in the mouth," he said. "Because I'd had a bit to drink I fell over and cracked my head open."
Mr Cudworth was rushed to Royal Derby Hospital and then on to Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre, where experts in the neurological unit fought to save him.
He underwent an operation where part of his skull was removed, the blood was drained from his brain and a clot taken away.
He then spent 48 hours in intensive care.
Mr Cudworth said he would have welcomed a visit from his son in hospital but that the younger man's bail conditions forbade it.
Lee Cudworth, of Foss Road, Hilton, was arrested the day after the incident and admitted the assault.
Prosecutor Alex Wolfson told the court the attack hospitalised Mr Cudworth for more than two weeks.
He said: "He was taken to a specialist unit at Queen's Medical Centre and slipped into a coma."
Stuart Newsam, for Cudworth, admitted his client had been "a hair's breadth away from a manslaughter charge".
But Cudworth was spared an instant jail term after Mr Newsam told the judge he had been "immediately remorseful" after the incident.
Mr Newsam said: "It was a single punch and it was not premeditated. The result was completely unforeseen and he demonstrated immediate shock and remorse, and made admissions at the scene as to what he had done."
Recorder Stephen Eyre gave Cudworth a nine-month sentence but suspended it for 12 months, during which time he ordered him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
He told Cudworth: "Those who engage in drunken violence must expect punishment. With one blow, you inflicted potentially life-threatening injuries on your father.
"Fortunately for you, and fortunately for him, he was able to be treated and has made an effective recovery.
"In cases of this type of severity, a prison sentence of one year and six months is the starting point.
"But I have decided I am able to take a merciful course in your case."
Recorder Eyre said he was being "exceptionally lenient" because Cudworth had no history of violence, had a good employment record, had been immediately remorseful and stayed with his father after calling an ambulance.
He also said Cudworth hoped to go into the armed forces and an immediate jail term would scupper his chances.