Man jailed for inflicting ‘life-changing’ injuries on German tourist

Opal Lounge on George Street. Picture: TSPL
Opal Lounge on George Street. Picture: TSPL

A SINGLE blow with an elbow into the face of a young German, when he intervened in an argument between a man and woman in an Edinburgh city street, had life-changing consequences.

Benno Orschulik, who had been attending a conference in the city, has been left permanently impaired with loss of hearing, headaches and tiredness, after the assault which nearly cost him his life in the early hours of December 3 last year.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court Ethan Baker-Blake, a prisoner in Edinburgh, was jailed for 21 months having pled guilty previously to assaulting Mr Orschulik to the danger of his life on December 3 last year in George Street.

Mr Orschulik was due to fly back to Germany in the early hours of December 3. He and some other men, who had been at the conference, went to the Opal Lounge around midnight. They left the nightclub around 2 am, and, said Fiscal Depute Aidan Higgins, there was no indication Mr Orschulik or any of the others were under the influence of alcohol.

As they walked along George Street they saw Baker-Blake and a woman arguing. The man appeared to be under the influence of drink, was very aggressive, and was holding the woman’s arm.

She appeared very distressed. Mr Orschulik asked the man to let go of the woman and the man told him not to get involved or he would “hurt him”.

When Mr Orschulik did not move away, the Fiscal said Baker-Blake: “flung out his arm striking Mr Orschulik on the face with his elbow”.

He appeared unconscious as he did nothing to prevent himself from falling and struck his head on the ground. There was blood coming from his right ear and police officers called for an ambulance.

Mr Higgins said there was “great concern” at the hospital because of the length of time Mr Orschulik had been unconscious, blood was still coming from his ear and he had vomited five times in 40 minutes.

He was found to have a fractured skull with clotting blood and there was a significant risk to his life. His skull was opened up, the blood clots removed and, it was the neurosurgeon’s opinion, that if this had not been done the patient would have died.

Mr Orschulik’s parents were contacted and flew over to Edinburgh. He was released from Intensive Care on December 15, but because of the nature of his injuries, he could not be flown home and his parents had to drive him back. There, he underwent occupational therapy and rehabilitation.

Sheriff Noble heard that Baker-Blake and the woman, his partner, had been having “a disagreement” when Mr Orschulik intervened. The accused had lashed out with the one blow.

Defence solicitor, Julie Brodtkorb, said her client had consumed “a fair amount of alcohol” and his emotions had been heightened at the time. He was, she added, “terrified of going into custody” and had shown genuine remorse. He had also pled guilty to the offence.

Sheriff Noble pointed out her client had four previous convictions, including an assault to injury. Baker-Blake’s claim that he was extremely remorseful contrasted with the view of the Social Worker, he said, who was so concerned that she thought a psychologist should be involved.

The assault, he said, had had “life-changing consequences” for the victim and he added that the guilty plea had only been offered after Baker-Blake had been placed in custody for not tuning up for his trial on the matter. However, as a result of the plea, Sheriff Noble said he would reduce a two year sentence by three months to 21 months.