A THUG who repeatedly kicked and stamped on a man's head as he lay motionless on the ground during a brutal attack at an Irvine taxi rank has been jailed.

John Townsley accepted a charge of assault to injury and danger of life and was sentenced at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week.

Appearing from custody for Wednesday's (November 16) hearing, the 31-year-old was told by Sheriff Ian Anderson that he was "very lucky that the victim was not injured much more severely".

The court was shown footage of the incident, captured by a nearby CCTV camera, in Bank Street on April 8 this year in which Townsley can be seen struggling with the other male before pushing him to the ground and then viciously striking him.

Townsley, who has been in custody at HMP Kilmarnock since August for two separate matters, had been out with a group of people at various pubs in the town centre on the night of the attack.

They had been in the Crown Inn when they were joined by a brother of one of the party, and they consumed alcohol for around 40 minutes then left.

The group then went to enter a taxi at the stance near Pitchers nightclub when a disagreement broke out.

The procurator fiscal depute said: "This led to an exchange of words. The accused walked after the man, an argument ensued and this led to a struggle between the two men.

"The accused repeatedly punched the man to the face before dragging him to the ground by his neck.

"He managed to get back to his feet but he was then pushed against a shop shutter and the accused punched him again.

"He fell to the ground and the accused kicked him twice to the head, took a few steps back, ran and kicked him to the head again as he lay motionless on the ground.

"He then stamped on his head before being pulled away."

A CCTV officer contacted police having watched the incident in real time.

The court heard that the victim had bruising to his face and was bleeding from his nose.

An ambulance was requested but was then cancelled after the victim said he did not want to make a formal police complaint or go to hospital.

Townsley, who had some swelling to his face, was located in a nearby taxi and told officers the victim had struck him first.

Both men were initially given warnings by police and told to go their separate ways - but Townsley was then indicted following a review of CCTV footage.

The fiscal depute added: "The victim had pain in his ribs and his right eye was nearly swollen closed. He also had cuts, bruising and scratches."

Defence solicitor Gillian Swanney said her client told her that he had also been the victim of a serious assault hours after the incident, and he was taken to hospital and put in an induced coma for a month afterwards. A High Court trial is set to deal with that matter.

Ms Swanney said: "There is little that can be said in terms of mitigation.

"You have seen the CCTV footage and heard from the Crown. Undoubtedly this was fuelled by alcohol.

"Clearly there was a disagreement between the two.

"Much if not all of his offending behaviour is underpinned by alcohol consumption.

"He has a significant record and he is well aware that only custody is appropriate today."

Sheriff Anderson told Townsley: "This was a very shocking assault. You are very lucky that the victim was not injured much more severely.

"In the circumstances, it seems to me that custody is the only disposal."

Townsley was sentenced to 25 months in prison and will be supervised by the social work service upon his release for 12 months.