A man who punched a former Wigan Athletic and Runcorn Town footballer and 鈥榣eft him for dead鈥?has been jailed for 12 months.

Oliver Norton-Drake, 28, of Gleaner Close, Runcorn struck Kyle Mayers in the back of the head as he tried to intervene in an argument between Mr Mayers and his girlfriend Kayleigh Towns in the early hours of November 1, 2015.

Jo Maxwell, prosecuting, said Miss Towns recalled that Norton-Drake, who she recognised, shouted that Mr Mayers should not talk to her like that.

They told him to 鈥榖ack off, leave it, there wasn鈥檛 a problem鈥?and that they were going out with each other.

Miss Maxwell said: 鈥淢r Mayers turned open-palmed to the defendant saying 鈥榣isten mate, I don鈥檛 want any trouble鈥?and as that was spoken the defendant pushed out with open palms causing him to stumble but fall over. The complainant began to turn away, turning his back on the defendant.?/p>

Norton-Drake then threw a punch at the back of his head, causing him to collapse and hit his head on the pavement, then the defendant fled.

Mr Mayers was unconscious for 10-15 minutes and although Miss Towns rang 999, the ambulance 鈥榳as taking its time鈥?so she flagged down a taxi and this took them home.

Mr Mayers underwent three operations on his broken ankle, including the insertion of metal plates, pins and wiring to bind the bone in place.

When he awoke he was in a 鈥榞reat deal of pain鈥? and he lost his job and the distress left him anxious and more reclusive, unable to head out with friends for drinks for fear of a repeat experience.

A talented footballer of 20 years, he could no longer do sport.

Norton-Drake was on bail at the time over a common assault committed just weeks earlier on September 12, 2015, and one of his bail conditions was not to enter Runcorn town centre.

He gave no comment interviews over both incidents. Norton-Drake was convicted at trial in magistrates court for the common assault, and he pleaded guilty on the day of trial in relation to the assault by grievous bodily harm (GBH) against Mr Mayers.

Recorder Patrick Thompson, presiding judge, said the delay in him entering his plea undermined the strength of his claims of remorse.

Charlotte Johnson, defending, said her client had intervened in both incidents with 鈥榞ood鈥?intentions ?in the case of battery he lost his temper after a customer racially abused a takeaway worker in Runcorn Old Town and in the GBH he intervened as he thought 鈥榯he argument was getting out of hand鈥? She said he breached his bail conditions because he had taken a grieving pal, whose friend had taken his own life, for a drink.

The defence counsel said Norton-Drake may have suffered post traumatic stress disorder from a 鈥榩articularly traumatic event鈥?during his four years in the Army in which she said he was 鈥榳rongly held by other soldiers and imprisoned for a period of time鈥?

Norton-Drake, a carpenter by trade, was a father-of-one with another baby on the way in coming months and had not offended since November 1, 2015, she said.

Recorder Thompson said the defendant the case of GBH was an 鈥榰nprovoked, nasty attack in Runcorn town centre with very serious consequences鈥?

He said the spell in prison must be served immediately.

Sentencing Norton-Drake he said: 鈥淢r Mayers approached you with open palms, you pushed him back, you had some aggressive intention in mind. He turned his back and you punched him in the back of the head, his legs collapsed, his face hit the pavement and your reaction was to run away.

鈥淚t was a cowardly act and you effectively left him for dead.

鈥淟uckily for him, his girlfriend was on hand.

鈥淗e was in hospital for five nights with a fractured ankle receiving surgery fixing it with pins and plates.?/p>