A MAN was ordered to pay £2,500 compensation to the victim of a prolonged and brutal assault outside a Blackburn nightclub.

A judge told John Steven Taylor he had come close to going to prison for what could have been a far more serious incident and warned that drunken, loutish behaviour would not be tolerated by the courts.

"This kind of incident is all too common in Blackburn and other town centres throughout the country," said district judge Jonathon Finestein. "The sad and brutal truth is that drinking to excess leads to so many cases of violence and this is why town centres throughout the country are no-go areas for many people. This kind of loutish, aggressive behaviour is disturbing and frightening and it is not acceptable."

Taylor, 22, of Lisbon Drive, Darwen, pleaded guilty to assaulting Paul Denial, causing him actual bodily harm. As well as paying compensation to his victim he was ordered to do 170 hours community service. Eddie Harrison, prosecuting, said Mr Denial had been leaving Utopia nightclub when he as attacked by Taylor. He was punched in the face and briefly lost consciousness before Taylor got him in a head-lock and punched him repeatedly in the face. Mr Denial again fell to the floor and as he tried to rise Taylor ran at him and punched him again. An eye witness described how there was blood pouring from Mr Denial's nose and mouth. Mr Harrison said the victim's nose was broken in the attack and it had to be re-set at hospital. He had been off work for two weeks as a result of his injuries.

Stephen Parker, defending, said his client had no previous convictions and was a sensible young man who worked hard. On the night of the incident he accepted he had drunk about 10 pints. There had been an incident inside the club and Taylor accepted that his behaviour afterwards had been "over the top."

Mr Parker said Taylor was engaged to be married and his fiance had recently announced that she was pregnant.

Mr Finestein said Taylor had been very fortunate that he had not caused even more serious injuries to Mr Denial.

"You were only a hair's breadth away, in this kind of incident, from knocking someone to the ground and then suffering a fractured skull and even dying," said Mr Finestein. "For that reason I have to take a serious view but I am just persuaded that I can deal with this without sending you to prison."