A DRUNKEN bank worker who punched a man in the face in a pub has been branded "a caveman" by a judge.

John Pickles, 25, of Overlands, North Curry, made a one-finger gesture at his victim before punching him.

His victim suffered a broken eye socket and torn tear duct and was left slumped on the floor covered in blood.

He had to take time off work following the incident in the Half Moon, in Tiverton, on August 11 last year.

Pickles, who had gone into the pub with his girlfriend, phoned the police the next morning to confess to the attack, claiming he was acting in self defence until he was shown the CCTV footage.

Pickles, a former fitness instructor who now works for a high street bank, was given a six-month jail sentence suspended for a year after he admitted causing grievous bodily harm at Exeter Crown Court.

He was also ordered to do 140 hours unpaid community work and to pay £500 compensation.

Sentencing, Judge David Evans told him: "Your girlfriend tried to prevent you acting like a caveman in her presence, but you delivered a few punches, hitting him in the face before leaving him bloodied on the floor.

"You must have been aware immediately of how wrong your actions were because you called the police the next day and admitted you had done it under the influence of a lot of alcohol. I'm sure that when you are sober, this is not you.

"This sentence is suspended because the risk of reoffending is low, particularly if you continue doing well at you job. However, this sort of thuggish behaviour is too serious for a community order."

Christine Hart, prosecuting, said there was ill feeling between the two men because Mr Gollop knew Pickles's girlfriend and thought Pickles had not treated her well.

When Pickles entered the pub he walked up to the victim, who he accused of making threats to beat him up.

He then attacked him without warning and punched him in the face three times as his girlfriend tried to hold him back.

Joe Wright, defending, said the four-second attack was totally out of character, while his decision to call the police the next day indicated remorse and a "proper moral compass".