A 22-year-old father who claimed he was protecting a woman when he bashed another man almost to death has been jailed for at least nine months.
Darwin man Tony Allan Simpson had been out drinking for much of the night of Friday, August 23 last year when the incident occurred.
Simpson and another man, who he had only met that night and cannot be named for legal reasons, had travelled into Darwin's CBD at about 3am to continue their night out.
They were walking down an alley when they say a man was having an argument with his girlfriend.
She slapped him and he slapped or kicked her back, causing her to fall to the ground and scream for help.
Simpson and his co-accused approached the pair, leading to an altercation in which "the victim was kicked and punched to his head and body", including while he was defenceless and unconscious later falling into a coma.
A passenger in a passing Uber helped until an ambulance arrived when he was leaking fluid from his brain through his nose and then had a seizure.
Without medical treatment, the victim - who also cannot be legally named - would have died from his horrific injuries that left him in hospital for two months, the Northern Territory Supreme Court heard.
The victim suffered the permanent loss of hearing in one ear and damage to his vision, lost his job and will never be allowed to drive again.
He suffered numerous traumatic brain injuries, skull fractures and torn ligaments, infections, damage to his memory, cognitive ability, balance, and fine motor skills and required surgery and ongoing treatment.
Simpson and his co-accused were arrested less than an hour after the incident at a nearby McDonald's where the former was also found to have 15 illegal MDMA pills, a traffickable amount.
"It was not for you to decide on how he should be punished, your actions went beyond self-defence and defensive conduct," Justice Graham Hiley said in court in front of emotional relatives of the offender and victim.
"This is a very sad and distressing case for all concerned
"Your conduct resulted in significant physical and emotional harm ... luckily for him and for you he was not killed."
Simpson's lawyer Nicola MacCarron had asked for him to receive less than three months jail time and to serve part of his sentence in home detention, which prosecutor Collette Dixon opposed saying he had sought to blame his co-offender.
Justice Hiley said "the offending was far too serious" for the court to be that lenient.
Simpson pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm and received a three-year jail sentence but will be eligible for parole in nine months.