A MAN who launched an unprovoked attack on a pub pool player, head butting him and hitting him with a cue, has been jailed.

Michael Toll was playing pool in The Royal Hotel, in Stanley, when Steven Linnett, entirely unprovoked, interrupted his game to head butt him in the face, Durham Crown Court heard.

Stunned by the blow, Mr Toll stumbled backwards against the bar, where Linnett struck him on the body with a pool cue.

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The attack was only halted when onlooking drinkers intervened to pull Linnett away.

As he left, Linnett shouted he would be back later to “finish him off”.

Mr Toll lost three teeth in the incident and must now wear a denture, the court was told.

He also suffered injuries to his ribs and bruising, although he did not go to hospital for treatment.

Linnett, of York Street, Catchgate, Stanley, had previously been jailed for four years for stabbing two people at a New Year’s Eve party 12 years ago.

He stabbed one reveller in the chest and another in the hand, the court heard.

The 36-year-old admitted a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm arising from the pub incident, which took place on Saturday, April 12, at about 7pm.

CCTV footage of the attack was shown to the court.

John Wilkinson, mitigating, said Linnett had had problems with alcohol abuse and could remember very little of the evening.

Nevertheless, he expressed remorse for his actions, for which Mr Wilkinson said there was no logical explanation.

Linnett has recently begun a new relationship and is acting as father to his new partner’s child, the court heard.

In light of this, Mr Wilkinson invited the court to spare Linnett an immediate prison sentence.

However, Judge Christopher Prince told Linnett he had demonstrated a willingness to engage in serious violence, there was no apparent reason for the attack, the incident was explosive in nature and jail was the only appropriate punishment.

He sentenced Linnett to 20 months in prison.

Linnett’s new partner wept in the public gallery as he was taken down to the cells.