Three men involved in a late night street assault escaped going to jail because the prosecution took almost two years to bring the case to court.
Ryan Grant, Logan Watt and Haydn Havard turned on their victim in Lincoln High Street punching him.
Victim Joseph Carter ended up on the ground where he was then repeatedly kicked and punched as he lay helpless on the floor.
All three men, who were 18 at the time, admitted charges of affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm as a result of the incident in the early hours of September 18, 2018.
Judge John Pini QC spared each of them an immediate prison sentence when they appeared before Lincoln Crown Court.
The judge told them: “It is quite wrong that things should take this long to come to court.
“If this case had come before me as it should have and more quickly you would be going to custody. This case has taken one month short of two years to get here and that is far too long.”
Judge Pini said that in the interim two years all three of the defendants had matured and Havard had completed a jail sentence imposed for another offence of violence committed after the incident on the High Street.
Ryan Grant, 20, of Skellingthorpe Road, Lincoln, and Logan Watt, 20, of Eton Close, Lincoln, were each given a 12 month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work. The court was told that both men were of previous good character.
Haydn Havard, 20, of Barnes Lane, Wellingore, was given a six month jail sentence suspended for 12 months with 150 hours of unpaid work. The judge said his sentence was different because he was not of good character.
Each of the three men was ordered to pay £100 compensation to Mr Carter to cover the cost of dental treatment he had to undergo following the attack.
Eunice Opare-Addo, prosecuting, said that Mr Carter was walking down the High Street with two friends after leaving a nightclub when the three of them encountered a group of men including the three defendants.
“Mr Carter realised that one of his friends was not with him. He turned round and saw a group of males which was the defendant’s group.
“He was punched by the males from that group. There were numerous blows to his face and he put his hands up to protect himself.
“He stumbled and fell backwards. Whilst he was on the floor several further hard kicks were delivered to his head and body and the group of males then ran away.”
As a result of the assault Mr Carter suffered a broken tooth, a black eye, bruising to his upper left arm, grazing to his lower back and an open wound to his torso.
Miss Opare-Addo said: “He suffered a great deal of pain and discomfort.”
When the defendants were later interviewed by police they had little recollection of what happened. The court was told that they had been drinking on the night as had Mr Carter who had earlier left a club after being sick.
Nicholas Walsh, representing Grant and Watt, said both of his clients had changed their lives during the two years since the offence occurred.
He said: “I can’t see that either of them could do a great deal more than they have achieved over the last two years.”
Michael Cranmer-Brown, for Havard, said his client had personal and emotional issues in his life at the time of the incident and had been drinking whilst on medication.
He said: “This period of time in 2018 was an aberration in his life. He has matured enormously since this happened. He is now a completely different young man.”