An army veteran has been left permanently brain damaged after a thug unleashed cocaine-fuelled rage outside a pub in Stoke-on-Trent.
Gregory Twigg, of Meaford Drive, Blurton, has been jailed for 11 years after pleading guilty to GBH with intent and common assault at the plea and trial preparation.
The 29-year-old repeatedly punched his victim, who had just left the Liquor Vaults with his fiancée, with considerable force in the unprovoked attack in Longton in June.
CCTV captured Twigg punching the ex-soldier three times before the victim was left on the floor and paramedics were called.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard the 38-year-old victim remains at the Royal Stoke University Hospital on the neurology high-dependency ward, where he has undergone eight surgeries since the assault.
His family that he will now need around-the-clock care at a nursing home and is unlikely to move, talk or feed himself again.
Prosecutor Christopher O'Gorman said: "The victim retired from the Army having suffered a back injury in Iraq.
"On Friday 24 June he and his partner went out for a few drinks together.
"They visited some bars in Longton. Their evening was reaching a conclusion.
"They left the last bar they visited and walked to Trade Street."
CCTV was then shown which shows Twigg hitting his victim with considerable force.
He also hit the victim's fiancée, but she only suffered grazing to her arm.
Mr O'Gorman continued: "The defendant was arrested at 12.30am at the Ironmarket in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
"When he was interviewed by police the following day he answered 'no comment' to all questions.
"He accepted that to some extent his actions were caused by his use of alcohol and cocaine.
"The victim was taken to hospital and has not been released since.
"He has had a craniotomy, a tracheostomy and is fed by a nasal gastric tube. His prognosis is poor."
A statement given by the victim's fiancée said their lives had changed forever.
She said: "He was not just my best friend and fiancé, he was my world. I hate waking every morning. We are living a nightmare.
"We are on medication. I miss his voice, him kissing my forehead. He's the kindest man I know.
"He has had so many surgeries now - each one terrifies me.
"My family's lives have changed forever."
A statement from his youngest step-daughter, who is just 14, said: "When I was at home I got the phone call and I thought this isn't true.
"I thought what type of person could do that. He is the most loving person I know. He's always there when I need him.
"I know my mum is trying her best but she's struggling with everything. No family deserves what we're going through.
"He was like a dad to me. He's the best person I know.
"I just hope and wish the person who did this to my step-dad realises the hell he has put us through."
Twigg was out on licence at the time of the attack after having been released in December following a 30-month sentence for stealing his ex-girlfriend's puppy, threatening to sever its head and threatening to stab her to death.
The court heard Twigg has six convictions for 11 offences including battery.
When sentencing, Judge Sally Hancox said that after his second blow it was clear that events had "taken a disturbing turn".
She said: "You have a clear determination to deal a third blow. You ran in an arc to find yourself in front of him.
"You were fired up. It's very likely that the back of his head contacted the road surface.
"He remained prone. Paramedics arrived and you left the scene. His injuries are life-changing and catastrophic.
"His partner describes a senseless attack on him. She cares for him, loves him, and misses him.
"His step-daughter describes him as her best friend. The family now spend their time at the hospital.
"His youngest step-daughter describes in mature terms how he's the most kind and loving person.
"There's a clear string of violence through your record. You pose a risk to members of the public."
Twigg was jailed for 11 years and three months, of which he will serve at least eight years behind bars.
Hamish Noble, mitigating, said: "He knows he is to receive a lengthy custodial sentence and he knows that it's deserved as well.
He has not sought to justify his actions. He's remorseful for what he did.
"He's sorry. He believed that he had an issue with one of his friends.
"He accepts through his guilty plea that whatever was going on was significantly misread by him."