A THUG who shattered a woman’s eye socket with his metal walking crutch in an unprovoked attack has avoided jail.

Preston Crown Court heard how on the night of November 23, James Smith had swung his crutch at Lauren Stockman, while she had been enjoying a night out with her partner, Andrew Smith.

Smith, 59, then assaulted Mr Smith while he and Miss Stockman were sitting at the bar in the Fernhurst Pub in Blackburn.

The court also heard that the force of the blow to Miss Stockman’s face had snapped the crutch in two and the victim was left with a fractured cheekbone.

A drunken woman had approached Miss Stockman and Mr Smith, asked what they were looking at, before threatening to hit Miss Stockman.

After telling the drunken female that they were just there for a quiet drink, Miss Stockman turned around, but then felt a bang to her head and could feel blood coming from a wound.

She said she had felt immediate pain in her cheek and eye and saw half a metal crutch on the floor and realised that was what she had been struck with.

At the time police released CCTV of Smith which showed him with the metal crutch in his hand. He was arrested soon after.

He admitted assaulted Miss Stockman causing her actual bodily harm and assaulting Mr Smith.

Defending, Neil Howard said his client was wracked with remorse and regret.

Judge Simon Medland said: “For no reason whatsoever you involved yourself in an argument with other people and picked up your metal walking stick.

“You hit Miss Stockman three times and the third time you hit her so hard it broke her cheek bone.

“The injury has caused her loss of confidence and has resulted in a change in her personal habits.

“What was going through your mind I am at a loss to know.”

Smith, of Albion Street, Blackburn was sentenced to eight months, suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 20 days of rehabilitation activity and was given a three-month curfew.

He was also suspended from the Fernhurst Pub until further notice.