A judge has delayed sentencing James Flanagan, pictured left, until freelancer Gary Carter’s prognosis is better known.
As previously reported on HTFP, former Manchester Evening News and Lancashire Telegraph staffer Gary was found with serious head injuries in the Bethnal Green area on 6 November after covering an England rugby league match in the capital.
Flanagan, 35, had been due to be sentenced by Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm at a previous magistrates court hearing.
No details of the attack were given in court but Scotland Yard detectives have previously said Gary was punched and hit his head on the pavement.
The Recorder of Redbridge, Judge David Radford, said Gary’s prognosis would make a material difference to the sentence he would receive, but warned Flanagan “an immediate custodial sentence is a very likely outcome”.
Asked about Gary’s condition, Lucy Organ, prosecuting, said: “We’re being told it may take as long as a year to determine his prognosis.
“He can walk with significant assistance, with a frame all around him. He can speak. I am told by the family he has attempted to use a biro but he was struggling in that regard.
“I’m unable to assist any further on the extent he will be able to return to normal life. The family are very much of the view he won’t.
“If he’s able to return home it will have to be with a significant amount of adaptation. And with his employment as a journalist, it seems unlikely he will be able to undertake any employment.
“However the unknown is causing a huge amount of stress to him and his family.”
Abigail Penny defending Flanagan, who cares for both of his disabled parents, said: “When I found out today that Mr Carter making good progress and I was able to communicate that to Mr Flanagan it was clear he was very moved by that.
“He’s devastated he’s caused him this terrible injury. I say this now because I know Mr Carter”s family have enquired as to whether he shows any remorse.
“From the beginning Mr Flanagan couldn’t have made it any clearer he’s desperately sorry what he’s done. However I agree we need to know more about the prognosis of Mr Carter.”
Judge Radford said it was “unfortunate” the case had to be adjourned but that it was necessary, adding: “It is in all parties interest to see this case resolved properly.”
Flanagan, of Marsden Street, Kentish Town, was released on bail with a curfew to remain indoors between 8pm and 6am, and is due in court again on Friday 5 February.
Gary’s wife Gemma, pictured below with her husband, said: “We are keen for Gaz to receive ongoing treatment at Salford Royal and while the case is still active we wish to focus on rehabilitation.”