A DARWEN soldier who was kicked unconscious by a thug as he returned home on leave has told of his gratitude to a passer-by who came to his aide.

Private David Moorcroft, 17, had got off a train at Blackburn station with his kit bag and had been for a few drinks with friends when he was knocked to the floor in an unprovoked attack This week 18-year-old Chris Jamieson, of Shakespeare Way, Blackburn, was jailed for three years and four months for the vicious attack after pleading guilty to wounding with intent.

The court heard how Jamieson stamped on Pt Moorcroft's head as he lay on the ground in the Boulevard on August 30 last year.

The former Blakewater College student was left with cuts and bruises and had to wait a week before he could return to work with 8 Regiment RLC, based in Germany.

He said: "I had been coming home from a training exercise in Yorkshire and was by myself when it happened. I don't really remember much of it other than waking up in hospital.

"I have no idea why he did it. I don't have any feelings towards him. I am pleased he pleaded guilt, although disappointed that that means he gets a lesser punishment."

Passing sentence Recorder Arthur Noble said it was lucky that the teen didn’t receive more serious injury.

He also commended passer-by Joanne Maxwell, who intervened in the attack and called the emergency services.

Pt Moorcroft, from Darwen, said: "I am really grateful that she stepped in, because it could have been a lot worse. I would like to say a big thank you to her for what she did."

Detective Sergeant Mark Cruise, of Blackburn police, said: “This was a cowardly and extreme attack for such a young man to commit, which is extremely rare.

“The behaviour of the witness Joanne Maxwell was described as commendable by the judge, who said she did not pass but stopped to assist.

"Joanne and her family should be proud of the way she behaved during this traumatic incident.”