A FORMER convict has admitted punching a 14-year-old girl after a gang of youths spent hours throwing snowballs relentlessly at his house, trying to 'wind up the crazy man'.

However a court heard the victims of the assault said they had not actually been involved in throwing the snowballs.

Louis Daniel George Shaw, 25, of Catchgate, Stanley, admitted two charges of common assault and a charge of possessing cocaine when he appeared before South Durham Magistrates Court.

The court heard the group of youths had congregated outside a house in Parliament Street, Consett, and had been throwing snowballs at it for a prolonged period of time.

Joanne Hesse, prosecuting, said: "They were throwing snowballs and gesturing towards people. He runs down to them and throws a punch.

"One of the victims was 15 and he went to punch him but the punch missed, and he punches a 14-year-old girl from behind. She fell to the floor.

"The 15-year-old grabs the defendant and pushes him into the wall. When the defendant tries to punch him again he drives him to the floor and grabbing his eye.

"The group of youths then punch and kick the defendant until he gets off."

She said Shaw was arrested at the scene, searched and found to be in possession of a small amount of cocaine.

The 15-year-old victim claimed his friends had asked him to join in 'winding people up' by throwing snowballs at the house, but he had declined.

He said the defendant got him in a headlock and forced his thumb into his eye before his friends came back and 'had to kick' Shaw to get him off.

Paul Donoghue, mitigating, said: "These two (victims) say they were just there, it had nothing to do with them. But they were with this group who were not just walking past the house throwing snowballs, this has gone on all night.

"They were 'winding up the crazy guy' and asked if he was game for a fight.

"He accepts he shouldn't have done it."

A probation report detailed how Shaw had been in prison for a year from 2015 and was 'extremely remorseful' for the incident on December 2. He had been at a house party and was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Magistrates gave him a 12-month community order and a four week curfew between 9pm and 7am. He was ordered to pay £100 compensation and £85 costs.