AN ENGINEER was battered by a drunken yob for being Welsh, a court heard.

Victim Christopher Taylor was left so traumatised by the beating, at the hands of 20-year-old James Phethean, that he moved away from East Lancashire to his native Wales, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Mr Taylor has also had to be suspended from his job on health and safety grounds as his epilepsy had considerably worsened since the attack, the court heard.

Phethean's attack, at the Caledonian Chicken Shop, Burnley Road, Padiham, was labelled by Judge Beverley Lunt as "cowardly".

Phethean, who he had been on an all-day drinking session, punched his victim repeatedly and even stamped on him after beginning taunting him when he heard Mr Taylor's Welsh accent.

But Phethean, a trainee electrician, avoided jail and was given a suspended prison sentence.

After the case, police said the attack was a "despicable and unprovoked incident", the kind of which would not be tolerated.

Mr Taylor, 27, who now lives in the village of Ynyswen, South Wales, said after the case that the attack had had a "massive impact" on his life.

But even though his attacker avoided jail, he said that justice had been done and that he hoped that the conviction would make Phethean "change for the better".

He said: "I think he was just looking for a fight and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"I have no bitterness towards him.

"I just hope the fact that he now has a criminal record he can change for the better and he can reflect on what he has done."

"I never had many problems in East Lancashire but I just wanted to get out of the area and start again."

Mr Taylor moved to East Lancashire in 2000 to study for a mathematics degree at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston.

While a student, he met Leanne, now 25, from Blackburn who became his wife.

He had been working at Marsden Heights Community College in Colne as a network engineer and lived in Burnley initially and then Albion Street, Padiham.

After leaving his job at the school in Colne he now has a new post in South Wales.

Prosecutor David Macro told the court of the attack in January last year.

At the takeaway, Mr Taylor encountered Phethean and two friends, who began taunting him over his Welsh accent and pushing and shoving him around the shop, Mr Macro said.

He said that Mr Taylor was so frightened that he asked takeaway staff if they could escort him home.

Phethean began throwing food at Mr Taylor and "bullying" him, Mr Macro said.

The defendant then punched Mr Taylor to the head, knocking him to the floor. Phethean removed Mr Taylor's glasses, threw the man's food to the floor and hit him again.

Phethean hit him twice more and stamped on his thigh while he was on the ground, before fleeing.

Mr Macro said Mr Taylor suffered bruising to his head, arms and back, and was in hospital for two days.

Judge Lunt described Mr Taylor's facial injuries, after seeing photographs presented to the court, as "horrendous."

But the judge, after hearing that Phethean had no previous criminal convictions, and had shown "remorse and genuine contrition for his actions", decided not to send him to jail.

Phethean, who admitted assaulting Mr Taylor, was given a 45-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, with a 100-hour community punishment order.

The judge also ordered him to pay £1,500 in compensation to his victim with £250 costs.

Robert McMaster, defending, said the matter was "entirely out of character" for his client, who had earned 10 GCSEs at school and was training to be an electrician.

After the case, acting chief inspector John Puttock said: "This was a despicable and totally unprovoked assault on Mr Taylor and it will not be tolerated.

"We always endeavour to bring offenders to justice and hopefully the publicity' surrounding this case will serve a warning to others. "