A supermarket worker left a blood stained colleague staggering away in terror after he carjacked him as he gave him a lift home.
Brett Baker, 22, started behaving strangely after workmate Sam Gist offered to drop him off at his home in Bideford at the end of an evening shift.
He asked to be taken to a quiet lane on the outskirts of the town and then launched an unprovoked attack on the driver, who was unable to escape the blows because he was held in by a seatbelt.
The victim suffered severe bruising to the left side of his face and a broken finger as he lifted his arm to try to deflect the blow, Exeter Crown Court was told.
He escaped by undoing the belt, opening the door, and rolling out onto the roadway before running off down the street, chased by his attacker.
Baker then took the car back to his home nearby and went on the run, eventually being arrested after taking a train to his family home in Surrey.
Baker, of Clovelly Road, Bideford, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and taking a car without consent.
He was jailed for seven months, suspended for two years and ordered to pay £250 compensation and £1,500 costs by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC.
He told him: "These were very mean and unpleasant offences against someone who had been helpful and kind to you by giving you a lift. What you did was serious.
“You assaulted him in order to take his car and you caused more harm than was necessary.”
Mr Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said Mr Gist had given Baker lifts home from the Morrison supermarket in Bideford where they both worked on four previous occasions without any problem.
On May 24 last year he took him in his car again after they both finished evening shifts at 10pm but Baker asked to be taken to Braunton where he said he had arranged to meet a girl.
He directed Mr Gist down Choke Road and then asked him to stop. He got out briefly but left his bag inside and attacked the driver as he leaned back in to fetch it.
Mr Evans said the attack was without warning or provocation and the victim could not move away because of the seat belt. He told Baker to stop but he carried on punching him until he unclipped the belt and rolled out of the car.
“He ran off and was chased. He flagged down a motorist who called the police and Baker drove off in the car which was found close to his home.”
Mr Greg Richardson, defending, said Baker suffered depression as a result of having the painful digestive condition Crohn’s Disease. At the time he was under pressure because of problems with his family.
He is now very remorseful and is keen to rebuild his life back with his family in Surrey where he has been offered work as a landscape gardener.