A MAN with a history of violent crime has narrowly avoided a custodial sentence after punching a 16-year-old boy just weeks after being released from prison.
Daniel Hotson, 22, of Lethaby Road in Barnstaple, had to be pinned to the ground after drunkenly thumping the teenager in a Barnstaple kebab shop last weekend.
Hotson, who has 39 previous convictions including assault, battery, wounding and ABH, appeared at North Devon Magistrates' Court this week where he pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour.
The court heard Hotson had been drinking cider and shots of spirits on the night of Saturday, December 15 and was even thrown out of one pub for dancing on a table.
Sue Roberts, for the prosecution, said Hotson headed to the Barum takeaway on Queens Street to "keep the party going".
She said: "Police were called to the takeaway in the early hours of Sunday by security staff who said Hotson was acting obnoxiously.
"They told the officers he had punched a 16-year-old boy in the face before the security staff restrained him on the ground. Hotson was arrested and police said he was clearly drunk with glazed eyes and slurred speech."
Magistrates were shown CCTV footage which showed Hotson punching the boy and walking away before returning to punch him again.
Miss Roberts said Hotson was arrested and interviewed at Barnstaple police station.
She said: "During the interview he swore at officers and threatened to punch one of them.
"He told officers he was provoked by the teenager and told them, 'why would I do something like that while I'm on license?'."
Miss Roberts read out a long list of Hotson's previous convictions which included an offence of wounding in July 2011 for which he was given a suspended prison sentence.
Hotson breached his suspended sentence in June and served 16 weeks in prison.
Hotson also admitted breaching a community order which he received on November 20.
Tony Dart, for the defence, said Hotson needed help for alcohol abuse.
He said: "He has had alcohol problems for ten years and knows it is wrong.
"When he is sober you can't meet a kinder, more polite person.
"He needs to sort himself out and needs channelled help to do so."
The court heard Hotson was referred to Addaction for alcohol counselling as part of his previous community order which also included 80 hours unpaid work.
Presiding magistrate Rosemary Day said she felt it was important his existing community order was served.
She said: "This was a shameful attack on a 16-year-old boy.
"We were very seriously considering custody but we hear you have had a change of heart.
"This is the first time in many years of dealing with you that I've heard you admit to having a problem."
Hotson was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and a further 60 hours' unpaid work. He was also fined £75.