THE TRAGIC consequences of the damage a single punch can cause were all too clear when 20-year-old Kyle Alan Morris faced sentence in Bundaberg District Court.
Emotions ran high and tears were flowing in court today as Morris, his victim and both their families relived the night all their lives changed for the worse.
Twenty-year-old Morris pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to 35-year-old Tyla Rackemann outside the Federal Hotel in Childers on March 1, 2013.
Crown prosecutor Alex Stark said as the pub was closing late that evening, Morris' victim Tyla Rackemann, a father of two, was sitting against a chainlink fence outside the hotel.
The court heard Morris began asking Mr Rackemann questions and the pair briefly exchanged words and walked toward one another before Morris punched him in the face.
"Witnesses described him as being knocked out on his feet," Mr Stark said.
"There was a very audible ... a loud crunching noise (when Mr Rackemann's head hit the ground)."
The 35-year-old received a serious and permanent traumatic brain injury, now needs round-the-clock supervision and will never be able to work or drive again.
Defence barrister Michael Holohan tendered letters from a number of people including Morris' mother and previous employers who said he was an honest, reliable young man and the violence displayed that night was out of character for him.
"Mr Morris, if he had his time again, would do things very very different," Mr Holohan said.
"It was all over in a matter of a second or two."
Judge Brendan Butler said Mr Rackemann's life would never be the same and while Morris would have the chance to live a full, healthy life with the prospect of employment, his victim would never have that possibility.
"He in effect has a life sentence," Judge Butler said of Mr Rackemann's permanent brain damage.
"This has had an impact not only on him but of course on those who love and need to care for him."
Morris was sentenced to five years in jail with parole eligibility in 20 months on November 26, 2015.
"You could have avoided the situation either by desisting from questioning an obviously intoxicated person, particularly after he responded with a rude (hand) gesture," Judge Butler said.
"I do accept that you're sorry about what happened and if you had your time again you would not have acted in that way however I must treat your remorse as being motivated not only by your recognition of the suffering of the complainant and his family but also the recognition of consequences for yourself and your family."
Outside court, a woman who had been supporting Morris shouted obscenities at the victim and his family, telling them to "burn in hell".
In Saturday's NewsMail, the victim's mother tells of her heartache and the enormous impact the incident has had on a whole family.
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