FATHER who lost an eye in a vicious assault has described his anger after one of his attackers was spared jail.
Dave Barry, 45, was on his way home from a night out when he was hit in the face with a bottle and badly beaten up by a gang of youths in Failsworth.
A number of youths took part in the unprovoked attack but only one of them, Zachary Applegate, who was 15 at the time, could be linked to it by evidence.
Normally a person who blinded another would be charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, which is one of the most serious violent offences.
But, because it could not be proven that Applegate, now 18, swung the bottle, he was charged with the lesser offence of assault causing actual bodily harm.
After pleading guilty at an earlier hearing, the yob was sentenced to a 12-month community punishment order and 150 hours unpaid work.
After having his right eye removed, Mr Barry, of Failsworth, lost his job as a machine operator in the plastics industry.
Badly traumatised by his ordeal, he no longer goes out at night for fear of running into his attacker or any of his associates.
The father-of-one's anger has been intensified because he was forced to give evidence twice after Applegate's original trial - at which he pleaded not guilty - collapsed after a juror's blunder last September.
Mr Barry said: "I feel I have been let down by the system. There's no such thing as justice anymore. My attacker has had a free ride in between the first trial and pleading guilty, and at the end of it all he's got off with a 12-month slap on the wrist.
"It is shockingly laughable and I'm sure I'm not the first person who it has happened to.
"The justice system wants looking at because the judge was very good, the police were very good, but they were frustrated by the options available to them.
"Time after time the system is letting victims down terribly. The only people that seem to be benefiting are the criminals.
"Twenty or thirty years ago my attacker would have been given a custodial sentence."
Mr Barry was walking down Oldham Road shortly before 10.15pm on April 20, 2007, when he was hit in the face with the bottle.
As he lay helpless on the ground, Applegate and his gang swarmed around him.
Describing the moment he was hit, he said: "It felt like a hammer blow. I fell to the floor clutching my eye because it felt like it was going to fall out.
"As I lay on the ground I was kicked from both sides. I had stamp marks, bruises and cuts all over my body.
"After three operations I was told I would lose my eye because it couldn't be saved and could affect the other eye.
"Since then I have good days and bad days. The really upsetting thing is that you can't do the things you used to do before.
"You try and do your best but sometimes your best isn't good enough.
"It's soul destroying and it knocks your confidence. I feel vulnerable. I'm not the same person I was before and I probably never will be."
Det Sgt Jason Byrne said: "David was an innocent man that was subjected to a horrendous and terrifying assault.
"All he wanted to do was go out and enjoy a few drinks. He has been left permanently blind in one eye and had to have his eye removed as a result.
"His injuries were appalling but they could have been even worse, such was the ferocity of the attack. David's life will never be the same again."
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