Man jailed for blinding father-of-two in 'sickening' Leeds nightclub glass attack

A man who blinded a father-of-two in a "sickening and unprovoked" attack in a bar has been jailed for more than 10 years.

Matthew Syron, 32, fears he may never see his children again after a beer glass was smashed into his face on a Boxing Day night out with friends in Leeds last year.

Mr Syron, who had moved from Leeds to Australia with his fiancée and children, was visiting friends and family in his home city for Christmas when he was attacked by 37-year-old Gareth Dean.

Leeds Crown Court heard that "in an instant, his life was ruined in so many ways."

Mr Syron has not been able to return to Australia since, and has missed key milestones in his children's lives, including his little girl's first steps, the court was told.

Matthew Syron fears he will never see his children again. Credit: Family handout

In a statement read out in court, his mother Sharon said: "Not only has he taken his eyes, he has taken his life - the life he had before he came a victim of an attack."

'No sign of trouble'

Michael Smith, prosecuting, said on Boxing Day both men - who were unknown to each other - had been watching rugby and then went to the Revolución de Cuba bar with separate groups of friends.

Dean challenged one of Mr Syron's friends to an arm wrestle, but Mr Smith said "there was no sign of trouble".

He said: "Some time after midnight Mr Syron was stood at the bar, standing next to some friends.

"The victim felt something push past his shoulder and it appears the defendant leant past him and pushed the glass into his face, with it shattering. Mr Syron immediately fell to the floor, realising he had gone blind.

"He describes panicking, everything going black."

A witness described the blow as being administered "with force."

Mr Syron said his life was turned upside down by the attack. Credit: Family handout

The court heard Mr Syron's brother recalled him screaming that he could not see.

Dean went to another bar, before handing himself in days later. The court heard Dean had been drinking since 11am and had downed at least 15 pints of lager.

He also tested positive for cocaine.

Dean, of Elm Tree Close, Colton, has two previous convictions for causing grievous bodily harm.

'Whole life turned upside down'

Former Leeds Rhinos Academy player Mr Syron is self-employed and has an electricals business.

The court heard that since the attack, his life - and his family's - has been turned upside down, and their financial future is "precarious," with all hopes invested in returning to Australia soon.

Judge Richard Mansell KC said this will not happen for at least six to eight weeks, and he will have to return to the UK for treatment.

Mr Syron hasn't been able to see his fiancée and children since the attack. Credit: Family handout

In a statement Mr Syron said: "This has taken everything from me - my business is suffering, my family is suffering, I'm not there to bring money in. This is affecting my whole entire family.

"I am depending on people I've not depended on since I was a child. I can't put toothpaste onto my toothbrush without someone helping me. I have to get someone to put my clothes in place so I can get dressed.

"I've gone from someone not needing anyone to being a 32-year-old like a baby. I can't explain how soul-destroying it is."

His fiancée, Kione, said in a statement: "Instead of planning a homecoming, I am planning appointments with a carer. We'd been planning our wedding and to keep the business going. Our dream to have more children has been put on hold.

Dean admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He was sentenced to 10 years and eight months in prison, with an extended licence period of five years.

Det Insp Dan Ridgway, of Leeds District CID, said: “This was a horrendous, unprovoked attack on a man out enjoying the Boxing Day celebrations.

“I know the injuries that the victim suffered during this assault continue to have a massive impact on not only his life, but that of his family too. I can only hope the fact Dean is now behind bars offers the victim and his family some comfort as they continue to deal with the devastating consequences of this attack.

“We will not tolerate such wanton violence in our night-time economy. The swift and effective investigation in this case meant that Dean was identified and arrested within days of this assault and has now faced justice for his actions.”

Well-wishers raised more than £58,000 for Mr Syron in the wake of the attack, which left him needing 40 stitches in his eyes.

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