A “thug” who left a Sikh priest for dead in what has been branded a “racial attack” has been jailed for three years.
Claudio Campos, 28, subjected Avtar Singh, 62, to a severe brain injury after targeting him “without any justifiable reason” in Manchester city centre.
Campos floored Mr Singh by repeatedly punching him in the head in Tib Street, in the city’s Northern Quarter, in broad daylight on 23 June.
He then calmly walked away leaving his victim unconscious in the street before going to a sports bar for a beer and burger with his girlfriend to mark their fifth anniversary.
“Cowardly” Campo hid from the police for three months until he was arrested after a tip-off following an appeal.
He claimed his girlfriend said Mr Singh had touched her bottom as they walked past each other at a pedestrian crossing, Manchester Crown Court heard.
CCTV footage showed him pursuing Mr Singh to “demand an explanation” as the priest tried to walk away.
Mr Singh suffered a stroke caused by bleeding on the brain together with multiple fractures to his cheek, jaw and eye socket, affecting his vision.
The priest, described as a “supportive, humorous, loving and hardworking husband and father”, now requires round-the-clock nursing and medical care.
He is unable to read his prayers or write in his prayer book, the court heard.
Campo denied the attack was because Mr Singh was wearing a turban.
He pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm at an earlier hearing.
Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Hilary Manley said the maximum sentence she could pass was five years and that Campos must also receive credit for pleading guilty.
But she told the defendant: “He was simply making his way through the city. He was troubling nobody. He gave you no reason at all to do what you did.”
“Mr Singh has been described by his shattered and broken family as a humble, gentle and peaceable man, a devoted follower of and priest within the Sikh faith, who regularly carried out selfless acts of charity for those in need of help.
“As a direct result of your decision to attack him, his life, and the lives of his family, are forever traumatised, changed and diminished.”
Mr Singh’s wife, Navinder, told Campos: “He was a happy man, minding his own business.
“You attacked his turban, a crown every Sikh wears in public, you left him for dead.”
Meanwhile, his daughter Sukhveer branded Campos a “monster” while her sister, Surinder, told him: “I think of you as nothing but a thug.
“You hid like a coward for three months.”
Mr Singh and his family were regular volunteers with the not-for-profit organisation Sewa (Selfless Efforts for Welfare of All) and would help feed the homeless every Sunday in Manchester city centre.
Sewa founder Pritpal Singh Makan described the priest as a “polite, courteous and helpful member of our community”.
“Sadly we see this a racial attack,” he said.
“Our turban is a crown which stands out.”