Woman who left Portsmouth man in a coma after pushing him down staircase at her 21st birthday party is spared jail

Alicia Savage outside court
Alicia Savage outside court
  • Man suffered serious injuries after being pushed downstairs
  • Woman said she was startled by balloon bursting
  • Court hears everyone at birthday party was ‘inebriated’ on alcohol and cocaine
  • Judge decides not to send her to prison
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A WOMAN celebrating her 21st birthday pushed a party-goer and caused him to fall down a flight of stairs and suffer serious head injuries, a court heard.

Alicia Savage had invited Barney Butwell, 26, to her flat in Timpson Road, Fratton, on April 1 after being out with friends.

Barney Butwell

Barney Butwell

The pair did not know each other but a court heard their lives would now be ‘inextricably linked’ as he suffers the effects of long-lasting injuries and she feels remorse.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard everyone in the party was ‘inebriated’ having been drinking alcohol and taking cocaine.

Stephen Parish, prosecuting, said when a helium balloon burst, Savage jumped off a kitchen counter she was on and pushed Mr Butwell who was standing in the doorway at the top of a flight of stairs.

The court heard mother-of-one Savage, who admitted GBH on that basis, tried to catch Mr Butwell as he fell from the single blow.

He struck his head as he landed. He was taken to Southampton General Hospital in a ‘critical’ condition, police said at the time.

The court heard he was in a coma for six weeks and then spent three weeks on breathing apparatus.

During this period he developed pneumonia and his left side was paralysed.

Surgeons operated to replace a section of his skull in June, resulting in ‘significant’ memory loss, Mr Parish told the court.

He added Mr Butwell underwent further surgery in June to replace a section of bone in his skull and made ‘remarkable’ progress by September.

But he suffered problems with his sight, headaches, and found it difficult to walk.

A CT scan at QA Hospital found he had a bleed on the brain and he had to undergo a lumbar puncture to drain the fluid. The court heard he is likely to undergo a further lumbar puncture and have a permanent shunt.

Medics were ‘surprised’ he recovered mobility fearing he would be permanently paralysed to his left side.

The court heard doctors cannot offer a accurate prognosis but said his personality changes will remain.

However, Mr Butwell, who suffers from hallucinations, is ‘ambivalent’ towards Savage, Mr Parish said.

Savage, who had been arrested and questioned on suspicion of attempted murder, admitted GBH saying if she had been sober and realised the dangers of where he was standing she would not have pushed him.

Sentencing her to a year in prison suspended for two years, Recorder Nicolas Gerasimidis said: ‘In many ways this is a tragic case.

‘You were concerned about a loud bang.

‘It’s not entirely clear what you thought but your reaction to it was to push the complainant in this case in an area of his body which destabilised him where he was, standing at the top of the stairs.

‘That single push resulted in him falling down the stairs.

‘The result of the fall down the stairs was tragic.’

Rebecca Austin, for Savage, said: ‘She regrets every single second of every single day the events that took place at her house.’

The judge, who described Mr Butwell as a ‘decent young man for not wanting to seek revenge’, said it would not serve justice to jail her.

‘It seems to me it would not be to do justice for anyone in this case in sending you straight to prison,’ he told Savage.

But he added: ‘This is in many ways a case which demonstrates the risks associated with the liberal intake of alcohol and drugs.’

Savage, now of Clarendon Street, Landport, must pay a £100 victim surcharge.