Teaching assistant who hit man has jail term cut

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A PROMISING teaching assistant described as a ‘credit to his profession’ lost his job and was jailed after striking a man in a moment of ‘foolishness’.

Richard David Hale, 27, hit his victim in the face, causing him to topple over and break his ankle as he fell to the ground.

Hale, of Sunny Bank Drive, Cudworth, near Barnsley, was jailed for eight months at Sheffield Crown Court in March, after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He lost his job and his lawyers urged top judges to replace the jail term with a community order - which would allow him to return to teaching.

The judges, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, halved his sentence, saying the original term was ‘too long’.

But they said jailing Hale was justified and his sentence could not be replaced with a community punishment in order to save his career.

The court heard Hale attacked the man during the early hours of October 13 last year.

The victim was in Barnsley town centre with two friends, when Hale walked up to him and punched him in the cheek, knocking him off his feet.

Although there was only a single punch, he suffered a broken and dislocated right ankle - for which he needed three operations.

The court heard he was ‘seriously affected’ by the injury and still had reduced mobility four months after the incident.

Hale claimed he struck out because a group of men started wolf-whistling at his girlfriend as they were leaving the restaurant, but the victim denied he had been whistling.

The teaching assistant, who had no previous convictions, said he had been drinking and ‘deeply regretted’ his actions.

His lawyers argued a community order was appropriate because of the effect a prison sentence would have on his chosen career.

Judge Clement Goldstone said a custodial sentence was not wrong in principle, but eight months was too long.