THE LONG arm of the law finally caught up with a thug who broke a barman’s jaw...six years after the attack.

Unemployed Joseph Norton, 57, had lashed out in the Fat Cat’s Bar, in Southchurch Road, Southend, after being refused service.

It was after last orders so his unsuspecting victim, barman Bernard McKeown, said he could not pour him a half pint of lager.

A furious Norton then launched himself at Mr McKeown and broke his jaw with a single punch.

After the attack on February 15 2007, he was charged with grievous bodily harm and appeared before court.

But after a hearing in October 2009 he breached his bail and laid low in Southend for three years. He was finally arrested in November.

Mr McKeown told Southend Crown Court that in the meantime he had to undergo a series of operations to have gold-plated implants inserted in his jaw.

He said: “I was virtually walking about for two or three years with no teeth at all, only metal pins sticking out.”

Mark Roochove, mitigating, said his client was unable to explain why he had committed the attack other than that he was drinking.

He said: “He is incredibly sorry, he didn’t forsee certainly the consequences that would follow from a single punch, and he regrets and and he can understand how the complainant feels.”

He said that after skipping bail Norton had remained in the Southend area. He said: “He hadn’t disappeared. He wasn’t on the run so to speak.”

Judge Owen Davies, sentencing him at Southend Crown Court, sai: “The fact is that you were solely responsible for delaying the time in which you were to be brought to account.”

Norton of Shelley Square, Southend, was jailed for 16 months.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “We are pleased that Norton has been forced to face the consequences of his actions and has received a prison sentence.
“He was arrested three times in connection with this offence and twice failed to answer bail. A court warrant was issued for his arrest and he was then remanded in custody.

“Ideally we would have liked to have placed Norton before the court at an earlier date but there was never any question that he would be forgotten about or escape justice.”