Northern Ireland

'One-punch attacks': Twenty-three killed in Northern Ireland

Ambulance Image copyright Rui Vieira/PA
Image caption A recent attack in Derry left one victim with serious head injuries

Twenty-three people have died in Northern Ireland from "one-punch attacks" since 2004, police have said.

On Tuesday, a 34-year-old former kick boxer from Londonderry was jailed for 16 months after an incident which left a man with serious head injuries.

Ch Insp Alan Hutton told the BBC that the number of deaths is alarming.

"That figure does not even include the people who have been injured as a result of an attack and survived," he said.

"As soon as you strike somebody, you don't know what the impact is going to be, either that physical strike could cause injury in itself or the very nature of a fall, against a piece of furniture or the kerb or the road."

Image caption PSNI Ch Insp Alan Hutton said the figure was "scary"

The number of people who died from such attacks in 2011 was 18.

Ch Insp Hutton was raising awareness following the conviction of Andrew McLaughlin at Londonderry Magistrates' Court.

The father-of-two, from Shanreagh Park, admitted punching a man during a row at a birthday party earlier this year.

His victim hit his head on a table and suffered a fractured skull. He is still under the care of the brain injury unit at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

"The vast majority of the cases we see are simply people reacting to something," Ch Insp Hutton said.

"I don't think many people go out with the intention of causing such injuries.

"Whether fuelled by alcohol, other substances, aggression or anger, whenever you strike someone there is a real potential for that happening."

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