A PUB attacker spurned a chance offered by a judge to remain out of custody, after a late-night assault.

Lee Wallace was given the opportunity of receiving a suspended prison sentence for the unprovoked assault, on a man playing pool at The Legion, in Horden, when he appeared at Durham Crown Court last August.

The 31-year-old defendant, of Matterdale Road, Peterlee, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm, following the flare-up on his part, on May 4, 2018.

Durham Crown Court was told Wallace was frustrated at the time another man was taking playing pool, as he wanted to use the table.

He launched an attack, punching the other man about the head and face.

Wallace suffered swollen and blackened eyes, a gash above one eye and had to have two teeth removed.

The court heard he has required lengthy and increasingly expensive dental treatment, including having a palate fitted, which he has found difficult to fund and which required him to take time off work.

Wallace was committed for sentence to the crown court, where his counsel, Ian West, urged Judge Jonathan Carroll there could be an alternative to immediate custody.

Mr West said West worked as an agency HGV driver and could put some of his wages to one side to meet a compensation payment to his victim.

Judge Carroll agreed to defer sentence on the basis that Wallace makes serious efforts to overcome his misuse of alcohol, keeps out of trouble and saves to make a sizeable compensation payment, with an eight-month prison sentence hanging over him, if he failed to meet those

But on his return to court the hearing was told he has since lost his job after a drink driving conviction, and a subsequent driving ban, while he has also only made limited efforts to curb his drinking.

Judge Carroll told Wallace it was, “an absolutely unprovoked, gratuitous assault” for which he initially thought merited only custody.

“But, following powerful mitigation on your behalf, I agreed to see if you were genuinely going to address your drinking, pay compensation and avoid further trouble.

“You have done none of those and so you will now receive the eight-month sentence in full.

“It will be immediate and not suspended.”