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Cocaine-fuelled thug who blinded a former rugby star in a nightclub in unprovoked attack is jailed for 15 years


A thug who blinded a former rugby star in an unprovoked, cocaine-fuelled attack has been jailed for 15 years.

Gareth Dean, 37 from Colton in Leeds, attacked former Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Matthew Syron as he walked back from the toilet at Revolución de Cuba in Leeds city centre on December 26.

The two men had not met before the night but after bumping into each other they took part in an arm wrestling contest which passed with no incidents. However, after the contest, Dean smashed glass into the centre of Mr Syron’s face.

The 32-year-old former Leeds Rhinos rugby league player underwent emergency surgery on both eyes and is now undergoing treatment for his injuries in the hope he won’t be left permanently blind.

Mr Syron had been visiting his family back in the UK after moving to Sydney, Australia 11 years ago, when the attack occurred. 

Gareth Dean, 37 from Colton in Leeds, has been jailed for 15 years after he smashed a glass in Matthew Syron's face - leaving him blind

Gareth Dean, 37 from Colton in Leeds, has been jailed for 15 years after he smashed a glass in Matthew Syron’s face – leaving him blind 

Matt Syron is a former Leeds Rhino player who lost his sight after Dean smashed a glass in his face in a unprovoked attack. Mr Syron had been visiting his family back in the UK after moving to Sydney, Australia 11 years ago, when the attack occurred

Matt Syron is a former Leeds Rhino player who lost his sight after Dean smashed a glass in his face in a unprovoked attack. Mr Syron had been visiting his family back in the UK after moving to Sydney, Australia 11 years ago, when the attack occurred

Mr Syron underwent emergency surgery and is now undergoing treatment for his injuries in the hope he won't be left permanently blind

Mr Syron underwent emergency surgery and is now undergoing treatment for his injuries in the hope he won’t be left permanently blind

Prosecutor Michale Smith told Leeds Crown Court: ‘My Syron fell immediately to the floor and realised his vision had gone totally black.

‘He has experienced pain before but nothing like that. This was a different level of seriousness altogether.

‘They did not know each other and had no arguments and had very little interaction in the bar. It was an entirely unprovoked attack.’

Despite having just blinded Mr Syron, Dean was spotted leaving the club and continuing his night out elsewhere. 

He later handed himself into West Yorkshire Police. He admitted he had been drinking since 11am on the day of the attack and had downed around 15 pints. Dean also tested positive for cocaine. 

Jailing him, Judge Richard Mansell branded his actions a ‘cowardly and sickening attack’.

He underlined Dean had demonstrated ‘no remorse’ and had ‘no hesitation to find him dangerous’.

Dean pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent and he has 10 previous convictions for 15 offences. In 2010 he was jailed for four and a half years for grievous bodily harm after he was part of a gang which beat a man with a pool cue in a pub. 

There was no explanation why he attacked Mr Syron.

Judge Mansell said the attack was premeditated, with Dean ‘quite deliberately positioning himself to strike My Syron in the face’ with a ‘highly-dangerous weapon’.

He gave him a custodial sentence of 10 years and eight months, with an extended five years’ licence period.

Mr Syron was rushed to Leeds infirmary where he underwent emergency surgery to help stop the bleeding, which included 27 stitches in his right eye and ten stitches in his left

Mr Syron was rushed to Leeds infirmary where he underwent emergency surgery to help stop the bleeding, which included 27 stitches in his right eye and ten stitches in his left

Father-of-two Matthew Syron had been enjoying drinks with friends Revolucion de Cuba in Leeds, West Yorkshire, when the glass was smashed into his eyes. Pictured: Mr Syron with his son Brixon shortly after he was born

Father-of-two Matthew Syron had been enjoying drinks with friends Revolucion de Cuba in Leeds, West Yorkshire, when the glass was smashed into his eyes. Pictured: Mr Syron with his son Brixon shortly after he was born

Mr Syron, who is father to three-year-old Brixon and one-year-old Meka Rose, worries he will never be able to see his children or partner’s face again due to the severity of his injuries.

And he says the intended brief visit to see the newest members of his family has turned his life ‘upside down’.

He said: ‘It’s so hard to comprehend to be honest. I live in a place where you physically can’t glass someone, the glasses are all plastic after 10pm. You have to be a low-life who would glass someone.

‘My life has been turned upside down. This was meant to be a quick trip to cuddle my brothers, see old friends and fly home to work. 

‘They have took my life and smashed it into a million pieces and I’m just trying to piece it back together.

‘I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, not on my worst enemy, I wouldn’t want to take their sight. I can’t even look at my mum in the face. It’s soul-destroying. 

‘I’m holding it together for the people around me, they are not sat in my shoes but they are watching me suffer.’

Mr Syron pictured with his partner Keone Rawiri, 30, and their children Brixon, 3, and Meka-Rose, 1

Mr Syron pictured with his partner Keone Rawiri, 30, and their children Brixon, 3, and Meka-Rose, 1

Mr Syron fears he will never be able to see his partner Keone (right) or his children Brixon (left) and Meka-Rose (right)

Mr Syron fears he will never be able to see his partner Keone (right) or his children Brixon (left) and Meka-Rose (right)

The electrician was finishing his night out in Leeds and had decided to go home, and said he only dipped into the bar because he had not been in before. 

He continued: ‘I walked in and saw some old friends at the bar who I played rugby with over 11 years ago. It brought back so many good memories and we were having a good time.

‘I went to the toilet then went to head back to my youngest brother. I went to speak to him then all of a sudden someone came over and glassed me and ran off. 

‘I don’t know the person, I have never spoken to him. It is such a spiteful sort of thing to do, so cowardly.’ 

After the attack, Mr Syron was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary and underwent emergency surgery to help stop the bleeding, which included 27 stitches in his right eye and ten stitches in his left.

Last month medics were desperately attempting to save Matthew’s vision but the father fears his sight may be gone for good. But he says the ocular nerve has remained intact, which may spell hope for the future.

Talking about Dean’s plea, Matthew’s brother Tom Syron told LeedsLive: ‘He needs to go down for life, he has ruined my brother’s life.

’10 years would be a slap on the wrist for the damage he’s caused, he has permanently damaged my brother, his life will never be the same.

‘We can’t change anything now, what’s done is done, the very least Matthew deserves is some justice.’ 



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