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Man who boasted after killing stranger with single punch is jailed

Michael Hannan, 32, struck James O’Hara, 45, leaving him with a fractured skull, nose and eye socket.

Michael Hannan, 32, was jailed for five years and four months at Preston Crown Court. (Lancashire Police/SWNS)
Michael Hannan, 32, was jailed for five years and four months at Preston Crown Court. (Lancashire Police/SWNS)

A man who killed a stranger with a single punch to the face in a “needless and unprovoked attack” has been jailed for manslaughter.

Michael Hannan, 32, boasted to friends about striking James O’Hara, 45, after leaving him with a fractured skull, nose and eye socket.

The victim was walking past Hannan in Barrowford, Lancashire, when he was attacked on 19 October 2021.

The force of the punch knocked him to the ground unconscious, where he hit his head against a pavement before Hannan ran away.

James O’Hara died from acute bacterial meningitis that developed due to his head injuries. (Lancashire Police/SWNS)
James O’Hara died from acute bacterial meningitis that developed due to his head injuries. (Lancashire Police/SWNS)

Mr O’Hara was taken to hospital and released after treatment but died ten days later from acute bacterial meningitis.

Police said the meningitis developed due to his head injuries.

Hannan, of Blackburn, admitted manslaughter on the first day of his trial and was jailed on Thursday for five years and four months at Preston Crown Court.

Mr O’Hara’s family said he would “never be forgotten” while adding that their world had been “devastated” by Hannan’s actions.

They said the sentence gives “some sort of closure” but they will be “forever broken-hearted at the cruel and needless way we lost James”.

In a statement released by police, they said: “One thing we can all hold on to is that Jay will never be forgotten because he left us all so much to remember.

"We will carry those memories in our hearts forever.”

Lancashire Police said Hannan did not know Mr O’Hara, who was "merely" walking past him holding a carrier bag containing an LP he had bought from a nearby charity shop.

A police investigation found he sent a photograph to friends of himself bare-chested and flexing his muscles less than two hours later.

The force said he also sent other messages, boasting about what he had done.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Haworth-Oates said Hannan had “showed no remorse” for his actions.

He added: “My thoughts today are first and foremost with the family and loved ones of James O’Hara.

“They have lost a family member and friend as a result of a needless, unprovoked and vicious assault.

“James O ‘Hara posed no threat whatsoever to Michael Hannan who punched him with such force that he inflicted the injuries that would sadly lead to his death.

“He then went on to disgracefully revel in what he had done and showed no remorse and only accepted his guilt on the day of his trial.”