A MAN who punched and kicked a fellow pubgoer has been jailed for nearly four years.

Kevin Hilton, 39, of Upper Church Street, Spennymoor, had been having an argument with his girlfriend in the town's Bridge Inn pub, when he turned on Adrian Ward and made a racist comment. Teesside Crown Court heard that Mr Ward ignored the comment, but Hilton then began scuffling with him and the fight spilled outside.

Aisha Wadoodi, prosecuting, said Hilton punched Mr Ward in the face several times, before kicking him in the face as he lay on the floor.

When Hilton was arrested, he said he was not racist against Irish people and claimed Mr Ward had been "mouthing off".

The court was told that Hilton had a record of violent offences and had previously been convicted of attacking a man in a pub and leaving him requiring 100 stitches in his face.

Hilton admitted a racially aggravated assault on July 9.

Peter Makepeace, mitigating, said reports about Hilton described him as an "amiable individual" with a stable family life.

Judge Peter Bowers said: "You are a violent man in drink."

The judge jailed Hilton for three years and added 352 days of a previous sentence.