AN ARGUMENT over beer at Worthing railway station ended with a 20-year-old narrowly avoiding jail today (March 12).
Zachary McElhill, 20, of The Strand, Goring-by-Sea, was sentenced to 18 months in prison this morning at Chichester Crown Court – suspended for 18 months – after pleading guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm at an earlier hearing.
The prosecution accepted he used ‘excessive self-defence’ when he punched Nigel Hall, fracturing two bones in his face, before walking away.
The court heard he entered the station on June 7, 2013, with a friend both ‘clutching bottles and cases of beer’ according to the prosecution.
McElhill reacted angrily when Mr Hall asked him if he could have one of his beers, swearing at him before punching him in the face when Mr Hall followed him along the platform.
The judge was told McElhill showed ‘genuine remorse’ after the incident, sending a card and letter to the victim.
Recorder Christine Henson QC said it was clear Mr Hall provoked the incident but McElhill overreacted.
“Mr Hall had been the aggressor,” she said.
“He was intoxicated and approached you in a challenging manner.”
She said the ‘genuine remorse’ displayed by the defendant and also the fact Mr Hall indicated he did not want his attacker to go to prison was enough to persuade her to suspend the prison sentence.
However, she said it was ‘completely unacceptable’ that after landing the single blow and seeing the victim fall to the ground McElhill just walked away.
McElhill must also complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay prosecution costs of £1,000 as he did not plead guilty until the day of the trial in January.
He must also pay £500 compensation to Mr Hall.