A TEENAGER is beginning a three-and-a-half year custodial sentence for a vicious drunken attack on a passer-by who politely asked him to be quiet.

Scott Andrew Punshon was arguing with his girlfriend as the 62-year-old bus driver made his way past them, on the short journey home from his local pub, in Crook, County Durham, at about 10.20pm on November 5, last year.

Durham Crown Court heard that the pedestrian merely said: "Excuse me, could you keep the noise down, other people live here."

But Punshon followed him on his bike and confronted him in a nearby alleyway.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said the man told him he did not want any trouble, but Punshon struck him a forceful blow in the face, knocking him to the ground.

He then kicked him repeatedly, leaving him unconscious.

Mr Dryden said: "A witness saw him Punshon follow the man up the alleyway and then heard hard thuds over the next one to two minutes, which he described as 'absolutely horrifying', and realised the man was receiving a beating."

Police were called and arrested Punshon at the scene, but when interviewed he had no recollection of the incident, having smoked cannabis and drunk heavily that day.

The victim was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham with a large cut on his forehead, which required nine stitches, plus other cuts, bruises, swellings and abrasions to his face and head.

Mr Dryden said the man was badly shaken and disturbed by the ordeal, which has left him wary of passing young people at night.

Punshon, 18, of Laurel Gardens, Crook, who had no previous convictions, admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Henry Trory, mitigating, said the attack was completely out of character, and Punshon could not express his horror on realising what he did that night.

Imposing a three-and-a-half year sentence in a young offenders' institution, Judge Tim Hewitt told Punshon: "This was wanton, unprovoked violence, exacerbated in your case by the amount you had drunk that day."