Attacker broke drinker's jaw with single punch in South Shields town centre pub

The Mechanics Arms. South Shields.

The Mechanics Arms. South Shields.

An attacker who broke a stranger's jaw with a single punch during a pub confrontation has walked free from court.

Luke Johnston lashed out at Christopher Anderson during a night out at the Mechanics Arms in South Shields and left him unable to eat solid food for weeks.

The 33-year-old targeted Mr Anderson after claiming he or his girlfriend had been bumped into in the busy bar last October 3.

Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told Newcastle Crown Court: "The defendant approached the complainant and asked him to apologise.

"He asked 'what do you want me to apologise for'?"

Mr Wardlaw said the victim described Johnston as being "confrontational" in his questioning before he launched the single blow, which was captured on CCTV.

He added: "He was x-rayed the following day and his jaw was found to be broken."

In a victim impact statement Mr Anderson said: "This has left me feeling very stressed.

"I can't chew or eat solid food. I can't eat anything other than soup."

Mr Anderson said dental work he was already undergoing had to be delayed because of the attack, he had to take strong painkillers and he struggled to get comfortable enough to sleep.

He added: "I was just trying to enjoy myself. I feel he shouldn't get away with what he has done."

Johnston, of Laburnum Avenue, Wallsend, admitted assault.

The court heard he was on a conditional discharge for affray after trouble in another South Tyneside pub the year before.

Graeme Cook, defending, said Johnston has a good work ethic as an apprentice electrician and has moved north of the Tyne in a bid to stay away from past trouble.

Mr Cook said Johnston has just the two convictions and "bitterly regrets" throwing the punch which caused such damage.

The court heard Johnston now prefers nights out at restaurants with his girlfriend instead of busy bars where potential trouble can break out.

Mr Recorder Batiste sentenced Johnston to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements, 150 hours unpaid work,

£1,000 compensation and £445 costs.

The judge told him: "You must ensure your behaviour in future is exemplary. You must realise you are in last chance saloon."