AN attacker sobbed in the dock as a judge spared him prison for a drunken attack on two people who tried to intervene in an argument between him and two women.

Liam McGirr threw three "boxing-style" punches at one of the Good Samaritans before knocking him to the ground, Teesside Crown Court was told yesterday (Wednesday, March 12).

When the victim was on the ground and was struggling to get back onto his feet, 23-year-old McGirr delivered another flurry of blows and kicked him in the head.

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Posecutor David Crook told Judge Peter Bowers that a friend of the attacked man tried to intervene, but he was also punched in the face by drunken and angry McGirr.

The court heard that the two victims tried to help when they saw McGirr rowing with his girlfriend and his sister in Thornaby, near Stockton, last August.

Duncan McReddie, mitigating, described the attack as "a sudden outburst in drink" and told Judge Bowers that the apprentice had never been in trouble before.

He said: "An immediate prison sentence would, of course, mean that his current employment is lost to him, and he would not be in a position to pay compensation.

"He is in employment as an apprentice. His previous employment was lost to him because of this incident, but those who employed him have still given a testimonial.

"He has not advanced any unlikely explanations or sought to blame the victims. He simply accepts that on this occasion, when in drink, he just lost it."

McGirr, of Chestnut Grove, Thornaby, admitted charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault from August 10 last year.

He was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, with 150 hours of unpaid community work and compensation totalling £350 for his victims.

As he wept in the dock, Judge Bowers told him: "I have given you a chance. I don't expect to see you again, but if I do, you will start off with this prison sentence."

Prosecutor David Crook told the court that McGirr was "aggressively confrontational" when the two passers-by tried or step in to stop the argument.

Mr McReddie said: "It was a drunken outburst in drink by a man who, when he is not in alcohol, is a model citizen, in employment and who is hard-working."