THREE innocent people on a night out were attacked by a group of drunken young men, described as “a pack of wild animals”.

Durham Crown Court heard they and other passers-by ran a gauntlet of the rowdy revellers who had been drinking in Durham for more than eight hours celebrating a birthday.

One bar manager, who alerted her door staff, said it appeared they were looking for people to fight.

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Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said the three main victims had the “misfortune” to cross paths with the mob as they crossed Elvet Bridge, at 11.30pm, on September 7 last year.

One man was struck in the face and fell to the ground and when his girlfriend tried to intervene, she was knocked unconscious.

Mr Dryden said her boyfriend lay across her as protection, but they were further kicked and punched.

Another person with them was chased and tripped. As he lay on the ground, one of the mob ran and kicked his head, “as if it were a football”.

The bar manager went out to urge the attacker to stop and saw other members of the group challenging anyone nearby to a fight.

She followed them and pointed them out to police, who arrested two men, one after a chase.

The duo, Grant Craig, 22, of Queensway, and 19-year-old Robbie Richardson, of Kingsway, both Houghton-le-Spring, denied affray, but were convicted after a trial last month.

Annelise Haugstad, for both men, said they were normally well behaved, one working and the other on an engineering apprenticeship.

“Both are remorseful for getting involved. Mercifully the injuries were relatively light.”

Imposing 12 month custodial sentences, in Richardson’s case in a young offenders’ institution, Judge Neil Clark told them: “This type of grotesque drunken yobbery will not be accepted by the people of Durham who take great pride in their city.