A BURNLEY man who was attacked while playing video games with a friend needed a chest brace to help him breathe after he ended up with so many broken ribs and vertebrae, a court heard.

Today Thomas Rickwood, 22, is beginning an eight-year jail sentence after leaving his victim, Stuart Mottram, with ‘life-changing’ injuries.

Sitting at Burnley Crown Court, Judge Beverley Lunt told the defendant he had only escaped being given a life sentence because of his relatively young age.

Rickwood carried out the sustained violent attack after drinking vodka and while taking steroids, cannabis and anti-depresssants, the court heard.

He admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent and Judge Lunt also imposed a five-year extended licence, on his release, after ruling he posed a danger to the public.

Prosecutor Joseph Allman said Mr Mottram was visiting Burnley Wood, to deliver books as part of the Burnley Buy and Sell scheme, when he was invited into the home of Rickwood, who he had known since they were schoolboys.

The pair drank vodka and Mr Mottram smoked cannabis while they played on an X-Box console, the court heard.

Mr Allman said: “What exactly transpired next is unclear but they did get onto the subject of Mr Mottram’s former partner. It seems that the defendant took a dim view of how their relationship ended.

“Mr Mottram was sat on the sofa in the lounge when the defendant set about punching him in the head. He estimated that the defendant hit him eight or nine times before he ended up on the floor.”

The court heard Rickwood also kicked and stamped on his victim before he lost consciousness.

Later Rickwood did call an ambulance and Mr Mottram, badly bruised, walked out bare chested with paramedics, a judge heard.

He was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital and immediately transferred to the intensive care unit, where it was discovered he had seven broken ribs, some fractured in more than one place, and four broken vertebrae.

Because of his injuries, which left him with serious breathing difficulties, he was fitted with a chest brace, the court heard.

Mr Allman said days later, while recovering, he identified Rickwood as his attacker. Police discovered the football shirt the victim had been wearing, half-burnt in the defendant’s back yard. the court was told.

Mr Allman said that three days before the attack Rickwood had appeared in court over a racially-aggravated attack on a shopkeeper - and five or six days after the violence he had assaulted two other people.

Richard Taylor, defending, said that thankfully his client had eventually stopped the assault and later alerted the emergency service. He had expressed remorse.

Judge Lunt said: “It has literally changed his life. He no longer feels safe and has lost his confidence in going out and suffers flashbacks to the incident.”