A 12-year-old boy had his bike thrown on the floor by a drunk man in Bideford, a court had heard.
Robert Stedwell, 30, of Greenbank Close in Torrington, came across the group of youngsters aged between 11 and 13 in New Street in Bideford on February 13.
He approached them, raised one of the boys' bikes above his head and threw it to the ground twice, smashing its bell and jamming the wheels.
Stedwell also stamped on the bike before one of the youngsters managed to grab it back and the group ran off.
A stepmother of one of the boys came to meet them and subsequently contacted the police.
When they arrived they found Stedwell having an altercation with another man and he was arrested.
But he told officers he had taken an overdose of pills that evening and had to be taken to North Devon District Hospital for treatment.
He returned to the police station on February 25 for interview.
He claimed he was approached by the youngsters who asked him for cigarettes and when he said no they abused him.
The court heard Stedwell had three previous convictions for criminal damage and was last before the court in August 2010.
Stedwell was unrepresented in court and pleaded guilty to the offence of criminal damage.
He was ordered to undertake 50 hours of unpaid community work as well as pay compensation of £50, costs of £40 and a victim surcharge of £60.