A Liverpool fan who flew over from Ireland to watch his team described how a stranger nearly blinded him in Popworld.

Damien Hackett wanted to enjoy the atmosphere in the city as his beloved Reds marched to a historic 19th league title.

He and his friends planned a night out before they intended to watch Liverpool's away game versus Crystal Palace the following day.

But as he danced on a podium in Popworld in the early hours of Saturday, November 23, 2019, the victim was approached by Calvin Elliott.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Elliott, 27, shook Mr Hackett's hand before shoving a glass in his face - leaving him scarred for life - for "no reason".

In an emotional victim statement, Mr Hackett recalled how he and his friends were "excited" for their weekend away, before it turned into a nightmare.

He said: "Going to Liverpool is always a great feeling and it's always very warm and welcoming, but what happened that night changed my feelings and gave me mixed emotions concerning humanity."

Mr Hackett said they were heading back to their hotel after a "very enjoyable" night out when they decided to go into Popworld for a few drinks.

He said: "While in there we were dancing away on a podium beside the dance floor. Mr Elliott approached me from the dance floor. I saw him trying to get my attention.

"I had never met or seen him before, so I bent down to his level to say 'hello'. All of a sudden he smashed a glass in my face and then ran off."

CCTV footage showed Elliott, from St Helens, trying to grab the victim's foot or ankle to pull him off balance, then jabbing a glass upwards into his face.

Popworld late night bar in Wood Street
Popworld late night bar in Wood Street

The victim suffered a 1cm cut to his right cheek, around 3cm below his right eye, which required three stitches.

Mr Hackett said: "To this day I don't know why he did this. For the last year I have been wondering why. Was it because I am Irish? Maybe because I was a tourist? Was it because I was having fun? I have also been asking myself 'what if I didn't go into Popworld?'

"The most frightening part of it is how lucky I am - an inch higher I would have lost my sight and my eye.

"If I didn't bend as low, I could have got the glass stabbed into my jugular vein and could have bled out there and then."

Mr Hackett was left disorientated and bleeding heavily in the immediate aftermath of the attack by Elliott.

He said: "A part of me feels sorry for him. I do not know this man, I do not know what life was like for him growing up or anything, but it fears me to think that someone could do such a hateful crime and just run away."

The victim told the court how in the year that has passed since "I have been living in a shell".

Mr Hackett said: "I have not gone out to socialise with my friends. Physically I am okay but left with a scar. Naturally I feel more cautious and afraid to let my guard down.

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"When I was attacked I felt ashamed and embarrassed that this happened to me. I spent the next day in Liverpool hiding in my hotel room, missing the game, afraid to walk out and have people staring at me."

The court heard that when he returned to Ireland, friends and colleagues asked him what had happened to his face and that he didn't feel able to tell them the truth.

Mr Hackett said: "I told them I had an accident because I did not want to feel a victim, but a victim I was and a victim I am. I will have to live with that."

However, he said that the reason he described having "mixed emotions" about the attack and his visit was because "there is also some good out there".

He said his friend Rory Doyle acted quickly to get him to hospital and waited all night and the following morning with him.

Mr Hackett also praised and thanked a woman working in Concert Square who got him a taxi as soon as possible, a hospital nurse for her "friendly and caring work in cleaning me up and gluing and stitching me back together", and a police officer who had kept him updated about the case.

He added: "As for Mr Elliott, I hold no grudges against him but I hope justice will prevail."

Calvin Elliott glassed a man in the face after shaking his hand
Calvin Elliott glassed a man in the face after shaking his hand

Elliott, of Weaver Avenue, Rainhill, who admitted wounding, said he had been "nine or 10 out of 10" on a scale of drunkenness and had also taken cocaine.

His lawyer said the dad-of-one was remorseful and wanted to apologise to his victim, as he urged a judge to consider suspending any prison sentence.

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Judge Brian Cummings, QC, said: "I'm afraid at the end of the day that the brutal reality of this case is that you took it upon yourself to shove a glass into another person's face for no reason. An inch or so higher and you could have blinded him."

Elliott was jailed for 16 months.

Stories from Liverpool Crown Court

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