One punch victim’s mum urges people to ‘think before clenching your fist’

Reece Roberts in a picture dated before he suffered life-changing injuries in an unprovoked one punch attack in 2013
Reece Roberts in a picture dated before he suffered life-changing injuries in an unprovoked one punch attack in 2013

The mum of a Blackpool man maimed in a one punch attack has pleaded with people to ‘please, please think before you act’.

READ MORE: Shadow-boxing teen locked up for killing ‘easy target’ Michael Rhodes with single punch to his jaw

Reece Roberts at the Royal Preston Hospital with his mum Millissa Roberts

Reece Roberts at the Royal Preston Hospital with his mum Millissa Roberts

Millissa Roberts spoke out after 16-year-old Connor Stewart was locked up for three years for accidentally killing Michael Rhodes, 47, outside a corner shop in May.

The troubled teen, who will serve his sentence in a young offenders’ institution after admitting manslaughter, had been acting the ‘big man’ in front of his pals, Preston Crown Court heard yesterday.

Millissa, whose son Reece suffered irrevocable injuries and spent two years in hospital after a similar attack in 2013, said: “People need to think before they clench their fists.

“Every time you open the newspaper, there’s something to do with one punch attacks. It’s like the norm now. It’s heart-breaking.”

Connor Stewart, top left, punched Michael Rhodes in an unprovoked attack outside the Costcutter store on Exchange Street.

Connor Stewart, top left, punched Michael Rhodes in an unprovoked attack outside the Costcutter store on Exchange Street.

‘Gentle g iant’ Reece, now 29, was having a cigarette outside Bar 19 in Queen Street when he was hit in the face. Knocked out, he fell and hit his head on the ground, leaving him fighting for his life.

The unprovoked assault, which saw his attacker sentenced to just 20 months before bars, has left him unable to walk and suffering from fits.

Now living with his family in a specially-adapted home in Convent Crescent, Grange Park, Man Utd fan Reece will never be able to work – and is still recovering four years later.

Millissa, 46, who has given talks to college students about the deadly consequences of such attacks, told The Gazette yesterday: “He’s here, and we are grateful he’s here, but we have still got a journey to go.”

She also said Stewart should be given help while detained for attacking Mr Rhodes, 47.

Judge Mark Brown said he considered the teen’s age, early guilty plea, and his troubled past before sentencing him to three years.

“He needs rehabilitation and help,” Millissa said. “He needs to know what he has done is wrong, and needs to be where he is to think about what he has done, but he needs that guidance while he is in there.”

Stewart hopes to enrol in a college course and turn his life round after serving his term, the court heard.