MAGISTRATES have issued a strong warning about the dangers of throwing drunken punches after an attack victim fell and cracked his head open on a metal railing.

The attacker, Jordan Wheatley, was given a suspended prison sentence at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court in County Durham today (March 7) with the chair of the bench telling him he could have been facing more serious charges if the victim had died.

Wheatley, 20, had been drinking for two days before launching the unprovoked attack on the man outside Quinn’s Pub in Spennymoor, County Durham, in the early hours of Monday, November 11, the court heard.

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The man stumbled backwards and cracked his head open on metal railings, a wound which needed 10 staples, magistrates were told.

Wheatley, of School Close in Spennymoor, then punched a friend of the victim who had gone to make sure he was alright.

Prosecutor Blair Martin said the attack was completely unprovoked, He added that the victim was headbutted by another man as he went to go to hospital.

Andrew Clinton in mitigation said Wheatley, who admitted assault causing actual bodily harm (ABH) and common assault, had no recollection of the attack due to how much he had been drinking.

Mr Clinton said Wheatley accepted what he did was wrong as soon as he saw CCTV footage of the incident.

Dr Peter Minto, chairman of the magistrates bench, said Wheatley was fortunate his victim had not suffered more serious.

He said: “This was a particularly vicious attack, I think even you seeing the CCTV footage were shocked by your behaviour.

“We have seen what the consequences of one punch can be, if your victim had died or suffered more serious injuries you would be facing totally different charges.”

The magistrate warned Wheatley that drinking alcohol caused him to lose control of his behaviour, adding that a loss of control can have serious consequences.

He said: “Next time you might well be serving a long prison sentence, for a young man prison is something that can hound you for the rest of your life.”

Wheatley was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison for the ABH assault and 18 weeks to be served concurrently for the common assault.

The sentence was suspended for 18 months and he was ordered to complete 18 months supervision and 120 hours unpaid work.

Wheatley, who is on benefits, must also pay £250 compensation to the ABH victim, £100 compensation to the second man, £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.