A ‘DANGEROUS’ attacker who gouged the eye of his victim during a sustained and unprovoked attack in a pub toilet has been jailed for 13 years.

Preston Crown Court heard how James Exton had been looking for trouble when he followed victim Steven Heyes into the Burnley Miners Social Club.

Judge Beverley Lunt said she feared Mr Heyes would lose his eye altogether as a result of the attack which took place in November 2016 and branded Exton, who was jailed for 77 weeks in 2012 for his part in a brawl in which a snooker ball and glass were thrown, a dangerous offender.

Judge Lunt said: “This was a premeditated, sustained and unprovoked attack that has left the victim with serious injuries.

“There is substantial scarring, and it is my belief that he will never regain his sight and will probably lose the eye all together.

“I cannot be sure that you did deliberately gouge the eye and could have inflicted the injuries with a kick. That kick being with some force while your victim was helpless on the floor.

“You were looking for trouble before the incident. You followed your victim to the Miners.”

Judge Lunt continued: “You did not plead guilty at the trial and tried to blacken the name of your victim by saying he was trying to supply you with drugs.

“You said he was aggressive in the other pub and I discounted that.

“You also tried to portray yourself as the victim which was discounted by the jury.

“You have a history of criminal convictions dating back to 2003. You have committed similar crimes in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 when you were given a custodial sentence.

“You have a history of using serious violence when you have had too much to drink, stamping on heads, punching and causing serious injury.”

Exton, of Hollingreave Road, Burnley, was found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Defending, Kevin Donnelly said Exton suffered from ‘distorted thinking’ and did not set out with the intention of involving himself in violence.

Mr Donnelly said: “The complainant has no memory of how the injury was caused.

“It is in my opinion an injury that could have been caused by a kick to the head, which could potentially make a difference to the intent and the level of violence caused.

“He has a number of previous convictions and has demonstrated a pattern of serious violence.

“However, there has been a significant gap between his last conviction in 2012 for affray and now.

“For someone who had offended with regularity up until then, it shows that he is capable of reform. However that point is mitigated because he has gone on to commit such a crime.”

He added: “He is now in a stable and supportive relationship. They have been together for six years and she is a positive influence which has undoubtedly contributed to how he has managed to avoid offending.

“It would seem that his offending arises from excessive drinking, poor temper management and distorted thinking.”

Judge Lunt said Exton must serve at least two-thirds of his 13-year sentence before being eligible for parole. Once he is released he will serve a further three years on licence.