The victim of Toothill man Andrew Smith’s shocking attack told a Swindon judge he was lucky to be alive.

The 27-year-old man was felled by a single punch in Trowbridge in January. Smith, 25, will be sentenced in early July after Judge Peter Crabtree ordered a new pre-sentence report to look at whether the thug should receive an extended sentence.

In a statement read to the court, the victim said: “He nearly ruined my life. He nearly killed me.” The man, who has to be cared for at home by his mum, added: “I’m lucky to still be alive.”

Smith struck out with his fists at the man, who had offered to give him a lift home from Trowbridge to Swindon. The man asked him to leave his car after it became clear he wouldn’t cough up the petrol money.

Prosecutor Rob Welling told Swindon Crown Court on Thursday: “The defendant struck him once very, very hard in the jaw or face causing him to lose consciousness almost immediately without making any attempt to break his fall.” Smith walked away.

When police arrived at the scene near the Trowbridge Sports Bar they thought the felled driver had been drinking. It was in fact the early signs of a brain injury that in the days that followed threatened his life.

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Andrew Smith Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Paramedics took him to the Royal United Hospital in Bath. Scans showed he had a significant bleed on his brain and he was rushed straight to the operating theatre at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, for a procedure designed to relieve the pressure on his skull.

On January 12 he was back under the knife as surgeons removed part of his skull in order to ease pressure in his head – sewing the bone fragment into his belly. Two days later his heart stopped for between 10 and 18 seconds.

He later woke from his coma. Surgery to fix his skull is yet to be carried out, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Smith, formerly of Stratford Close, Toothill, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and an affray and assault causing actual bodily harm. The second set of charges followed a brawl outside a Trowbridge Wetherspoons during which a topless Smith kicked a female barmaid’s shoulder as she lay on the ground.

He has a history of drink-fuelled violence. He was released from prison on licence last year after serving part of a 45 month sentence imposed in 2018 for wounding with intent.  

Judge Peter Crabtree adjourned his case to July 3, ordering the probation service to examine whether or not Smith should be given an extended sentence.

Andrew’s two brothers, Michael and Joseph, appeared alongside him during a day-long hearing at Swindon Crown Court on Thursday.

The trio were collectively responsible for five attacks over six months. Two brawls followed disagreements over games of pool.

Michael was jailed for three years and 10 months, Joseph for four years and two months.

Reacting to the sentences, Det Sgt Lauren Barnard of Wiltshire Police said: “The incidents these individuals were responsible for were violent and caused serious injury to a number of victims – the impact of their actions will be long lasting both physically and mentally. This level of violence is completely unacceptable and causes fear and distress amongst those within our communities.

“I am pleased that custodial sentences have been issued -  this reflects the severity of their offending and hopefully sends a clear message to our community that we will not tolerate this type of behaviour and will do all we can to ensure offenders are put before the courts.”