A man who punched another in the head claimed he had not been ‘summoned’ to carry out the attack.

Ashley Cypher was said to have recognised his victim in the car park near Carterton’s library ‘from pictures on Facebook’ and, although aware of a ‘history of difficulties with other parts of the family’, he himself had ‘never spoken’ to victim Stewart Hayes before knocking him down on February 13 last year.

A sceptical Judge Maria Lamb summarised the 33-year-old’s position when the West Oxfordshire man came before her for sentencing on Wednesday (April 26).

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“Completely of his own initiative [he] carried out his own attack,” she said. The account was apparently disbelieved by the probation officer who wrote a pre-sentence report, who was said to have concluded that Cypher was ‘summoned to carry out the assault’.

Mitigating, Angela Porter said her client’s instructions were that he did not know Mr Hayes would be there and, in the heat of the moment, decided he would punch the man.

Earlier, prosecutor Andrew Jordan said Cypher had walked off immediately after throwing the punch. The victim hit his head on a bin as he fell to the ground, suffering a cut to his forehead and a fracture to his right cheekbone.

In a victim impact statement summarised to the court, Mr Hayes said he missed four days of work for which he would normally be paid £60 a day. He expressed concerns about reprisals.

The court heard that Cypher’s uncle, Peter, who it was said had driven his nephew to the scene, was also charged with causing grievous bodily harm. However, prosecutors dropped the charge when the victim, then in prison serving a sentence on other matters, refused to get on the van to attend the trial.

The delay had left nephew Ashley in limbo for more than four months waiting for his uncle’s trial.

“He’s been very anxious and distressed about what is happening and what his likely sentence is going to be,” defence advocate Ms Porter told the judge. She said he was remorseful for what he had done.

Ashley Cypher, formerly of Sycamore Drive, Carterton, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to GBH.

Judge Lamb deferred sentencing for six months, ordering the defendant to do his best to get a job, save money to compensate his injured victim and stay out of trouble.

“If you comply with those conditions, although I have in mind a prison sentence it won’t be a sentence of immediate imprisonment. But being plain about it if you don’t then all options are open,” the judge said.

Cypher will return to the crown court on October 20. Judge Lamb imposed a five year restraining order banning the defendant from contacting Mr Hayes.