A THUG who knocked out a man in the street has avoided going to custody after pleading with a judge that he would not be allowed to go and live in Australia if he was jailed.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard how Kieran O'Shaughnessy, 20, left Liam Priestly with a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain after punching him during a night out in Ramsbottom.

But despite hearing how Mr Priestly suffered a broken front tooth and was forced to take three weeks off work following the incident, Judge Angela Nield took pity on the defendant, who sobbed throughout the hearing, after she heard how he planned to join his two elder brothers in Sydney.

Luke and Paul O’Shaughnessy hit the headlines in 2019 when they tackled a knifeman linked to the death of a woman in the city, with the pair earning praise from the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Paul, 39, is a former midfielder for Bury FC, making 45 appearances for the Gigg Lane outfit between 1998 and 2004.

Laura Broome, prosecuting, said that on July 11 last year, both men were out drinking with friends in Ramsbottom when at around 12.30am the two groups met each other on Bridge Street.

"Mr Priestly heard someone make fun of what he was wearing and an argument started between the two groups," said Ms Broome. "A local resident could see the argument through his window and began to film it on his mobile phone."

With the groups squaring up to each other in the middle of the road, O'Shaughnessy punched Mr Priestly in the face with his right hand knocking him to the pavement.

The victim, who was unconsciousness, was placed in the recovery position and an ambulance called, with Ms Broome describing how the defendant stayed at the scene and was apologetic about what had happened.

At hospital, Mr Priestly was treated for a bleed on the brain and a fracture to the right frontal lobe, which caused post-traumatic amnesia.

He spent six days in hospital in total and was not able to return to work for three weeks, with Ms Broome adding that he was still undergoing tests.

O'Shaughnessy, who pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm, was arrested later that day at his home and was heard to ask if his victim was "OK" before making a full confession and offering to apologise to Mr Priestly.

In a victim personal statement read to the court, Mr Priestly said: "The assault has affected my confidence and I have not been out with my friends since.

"Since the attack I have been nervous to go out of my house because Kieran is from my local area and we know a lot of the same people.

"I have not been able to play any contact sport and I was unable to start an apprentice when I was supposed to and had to stop my driving lessons.

"I feel like it has left me a year behind where I thought I would be right now in terms of work and life."

Ms Broome added that O'Shaugnessy, of Milbourne Road, Bury, had no previous convictions.

Mark Ford, defending, said his client, who was aged 19 at the time of the offence, had gone into Manchester on his 18th birthday with his girlfriend when he was assaulted by three men and kicked unconscious.

"That experience had a significant impact on his reaction to the situation that presented itself on this evening," said Mr Ford. "The levels of anxiety he was experiencing forced him to react the way he did and there is ample evidence in the references that this was out of character.

"It is the defendants intention to join his brothers in Australia where they run a successful company and the blunt reality is that any conviction places this in some jeopardy and immediate custody makes it an impossibility."

Handing O'Shaugnessy a six month suspended sentence order in a young offenders unit suspended for 18 months, Judge Nield said: "Perhaps the saddest aspect of this case is the fact that a split second loss of control has meant you've lost your good character.

"It is difficult to see how any defendant could have better mitigation than that which you present before this court and it is clear to me there is a good prospect of very clear rehabilitation."

O'Shaugnessy will also have to complete 180 hours of unpaid work and pay Mr Priestly £600 compensation which could rise after the victim's dental work is completed.