AN attack victim says he was transformed from a “happy go lucky” sports lover into “an old man overnight” after suffering a brain injury during a violent assault in York.

Gavin Mercer, in his mid-20s, was walking across Lendal Bridge when he was attacked by 20-yearold James Baraniak, Baraniak threw three punches, the last of which smashed Mr Mercer’s nose and knocked him to the pavement.

Prosecutor Peter Sabiston told York Crown Court: “One witness describes hearing the crack from 15 feet away.”

As the attacker fled, passers-by rushed to help, placing Mr Mercer in the recovery system and trying to keep him awake until an ambulance came.

Doctors at York Hospital diagnosed a broken eye socket, a fractured skull, caused by hitting the pavement, and a bleed to the brain, Mr Sabiston continued.

The court was told Mr Mercer was transferred for neurosurgery at Hull and may never fully recover from his injuries, but Baraniak has been spared jail.

A statement read to the court by Mr Mercer said: “I’m a young man who has previously led a happy-golucky lifestyle and this assault has put an end to all that.

“I feel I live my life from one hospital visit to the next.

“Before this, I played football and tennis four times a week and rode my bike, which I will not be able to do again.

“I really feel my whole life has been turned completely upside down.

“All the things I used to enjoy doing have been taken away.

“I feel I have gone from being a young vibrant person to an old man overnight and have nothing to look forward to any more.”

Mr Mercer also worked in the bar trade, like his attacker.

But because of his injuries he had had to cut his working hours and was already £5,000 out of pocket, it was said.

Baraniak, of Scaife Mews, between Haxby Road and Wigginton Road, admitted assault causing grievous bodily harm on January 25 this year when Mr Mercer was walking home from a night out with a pal.

Chloe Fairley, defending, said: “This is a young man who normally leads an exemplary life who has shown sincere and heartfelt remorse for his actions that night.

“He himself is shocked by his behaviour.”

Baraniak was given a 14-month jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay £3,000 compensation, plus a £100 victim surcharge.

Recorder Angus Withington told the defendant: “This was a deeply unpleasant attack which has had profound consequences for Mr Mercer.

“But I would say these consequences were not ones you intended and there has been a sincere degree of regret on your behalf and it was an out-of-character offence.”

The court heard Mr Mercer had called out “sexy” toward his attacker’s girlfriend, before being attacked.