A LIGHT-HEARTED remark, taken in the wrong way, led to a sustained attack that left the victim in hospital for two weeks, a court was told.

Liam Savage carried out the unprovoked attack on August 28, 2018, after both had been out in Chester-le-Street.

Durham Crown Court heard that although they knew each other they had been in different groups and only came across each other at 3am in the town centre.

Ian West, prosecuting, said Savage stood on the foot of the other man, who made a joke stating he had put a hole in his shoe, to which the defendant, “took badly”.

“He wasn’t in the mood for an explanation that it was just a joke and called him over to speak to him.”

The other party tried to speak to Savage who began jumping up and down, before punching him to the left side of the head and throat, knocking off his glasses.

Savage punched him several more times and head butted him in the on/off attack, lasting about 30 minutes.

The defendant made an apparent effort to help wipe the blood as the complainant boarded a taxi to go to hospital, but left with a parting shot of a further punch.

Mr West said the victim was treated for facial and head injuries but also for a damaged wind pipe which resulted in the cavity between his lungs filling with air, causing a partial collapse of a lung.

The victim spent a fortnight undergoing hospital treatment and feared the lung injury may hinder his hopes of becoming a marine biologist.

Even though he was able to undertake a university course in the south, each time he returned to Chester-le-Street he did not want to go out with friends in the town.

Savage, 19, of West Street, Pelton, who initially claimed he was acting in self-defence, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm (gbh) on the day a trial was listed on the more serious allegation of causing gbh with intent, a plea, “accepted” by the Crown.

Liam O’Brien, mitigating, said it was an offence very much out of character, but “by good fortune”, there was no long-term damage.

Providing character references to the court, Mr O’Brien said it was down to “immaturity and naivety.”

He added that at the time he was an inexperienced drinker, who made, “a terrible mistake” that night, which has cost him his dream of a career in the RAF.

Judge James Adkin told him: “What the source of antagonism was, I’m not sure, but it seems the complainant tried to joke with you, but you were not having it.

“This was a repeated and sustained assault on a defenceless man when you were drunk, with a slightly sadistic context to it, punching him again even after helping to wipe blood from his face.”

Imposing a 15-month prison sentence, Judge Adkin made a restraining order forbidding Savage contacting the victim for five years.