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Noel Gallagher's Attacker Faces Sentencing This Friday
With a drunken shove, Pickering contractor Danny Sullivan pitched British rock star Noel Gallagher into a bank of amplifiers and speakers, and catapulted himself into instant, worldwide notoriety,courtesy of YouTube.
Now it's time for Mr. Sullivan to face the music, in the shape of a sentencing hearing Friday morning at downtown Toronto's Old City Hall courthouse.
In September he pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm. His lawyer, John Collins, said Thursday that in light of his client's otherwise “exemplary” track record, he would be seeking a conditional, non-custodial sentence.
The broad facts of the Sept. 7, 2008, incident during the two-day Virgin Music Festival on the Toronto Island are not in dispute. Oasis was the headline act, and it was just after 10 p.m. when Mr. Gallagher, the band's songwriter and lead guitarist, struck up the opening chords of the band's monster 1995 hit (What's the Story) Morning Glory? That's when the intoxicated Mr. Sullivan made his unscripted appearance.
Quite how he was able to elude security and clamber up on to the stage remains unclear, because by his own admission, outlined in an agreed statement of facts, he was so drunk that he had no recollection of getting there.
All he could remember later was trying to climb over a security fence, falling on his back in the process.
But what happened next was captured on several videocameras, in footage that swiftly made its way on to the Internet and around the world.
The video clips show Mr. Sullivan, now 48, running across the stage toward Mr. Gallagher and violently pushing him from behind.
Mr. Gallagher fell forward, striking one of the speaker cabinets facing the audience, Mr. Sullivan then lunged toward Liam Gallagher, Noel's younger brother and the Oasis lead vocalist, standing about three metres away. Three security guards, however, intervened and grabbed the intruder who was held backstage until police arrived.
Noel Gallagher was taken off stage, saying he felt “winded,” but returned for the last 20 minutes of the show.
X-rays taken at Toronto General Hospital the next day showed no obvious fractures, but he complained of pain and of difficulty in moving, and on the advice of doctors, he and the band cancelled the rest of the tour, which would have comprised five more gigs.
A subsequent CT Scan in London on Sept. 22 identified three broken ribs – numbers 9, 10 and 11. All told, Mr. Gallagher said it took him about eight months to fully recover. And parallel to the criminal proceedings he has filed a statement of claim against his attacker – originally charged with aggravated assault until prosecutors agreed to the lesser charge – seeking more than $2-million in damages, For those familiar with Oasis, the situation was rich in irony.
In August, Noel Gallagher announced his departure from the band.
But in the 18 years that followed its formation in Manchester under the name The Rain, it evolved into one of rock stardom's biggest attractions, selling more than 70 million records world-wide and accumulating eight number-one singles in Britain and seven number-one albums. Among the latter was Be Here Now , released in 1997 and the fastest-selling album in British chart history.
Along the way, Oasis also chalked up a well-earned reputation for rowdiness and a wild, alcohol-fuelled lifestyle. For years the Gallagher brothers' antics and sibling rivalry were fodder for tabloid newspapers. Sufficiently so that when word of Mr. Sullivan's assault reached the Internet, sympathy for Mr. Gallagher was diluted with approval for his assailant.
One British commenter lauded Mr. Sullivan as “a true hero,” lamenting the fact that he had not “finished the job through by smacking his loud mouthed pikey brother in the chops, you know, just for good measure.”
Friday's sentencing hearing will be in front of Mr. Justice Richard Schneider.
The judge has been given a pre-sentencing assessment of Mr. Sullivan, who is married with children and has never before been in trouble with the law.
This incident, Mr. Collins said, was “totally out of character.”