A drunk who launched a homophobic attack on a man, breaking his jaw, has been given a suspended sentence at Bristol Crown Court.

Witnesses said Jacob Smith, 21, made homophobic comments before punching his victim, in an act the judge said “richly deserved” a prison sentence.

Smith’s sentence was suspended partly due to his literacy issues and a problem with his hand which means he cannot perform manual work.

The Bristol Evening Post reports that Smith had been drinking when he came across the 25-year-old out with his partner and a friend on a July evening. He uttered verbal abuse and punched the gay man in the face.

Smith was given a 12-month sentence for committing grievous bodily harm. However Judge Michael Harington said it would be suspended for two years.

He said: “You made some vile, revolting homophobic remarks which were quite unforgivable. The offence alone clearly crosses the custody threshold.”

Robert Reid, prosecuting, said the attacker was later found outside a pub.

Reid added: “He said, ‘I’m going to go mental if you nick me’, and was swinging his arms and legs about.”

The attacker was found with an amount of cannabis on him.

It was reported that the victim had since been too frightened to go out to work and has been prescribed anti-depressants.

Giles Nelson, defending, said Smith had no recollection of the attack and no recollection of the verbal abuse.

He said: “He has accepted that his conduct was not good but the ‘no comment’ interviews were not an attempt to be evasive but born out of complete amnesia.

“He pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity at Bristol Magistrates’ Court and this is evidence of his remorse. He is very sorry for what happened to the victim.”

Mr Nelson also added that Smith, who has a previous record of antisocial offences, has literacy issues and is unable to perform manual work because of a congenital defect affecting his hand.

He said: “He has a deep sense of frustration when it comes to employment and a low self-esteem which is why, on occasion he drinks to excess and takes substances. He is an extremely vulnerable young man.”

Judge Harington said it was an exceptional circumstance which was allowing Smith to escape an immediate custodial sentence.

He said: “I’ve taken into account the victim impact statement and this sort of case usually attracts a custodial sentence. I have also taken into account the difficulties you have experienced over the years.

“I don’t believe it is in the public interest, although richly deserved, to send you to prison today.”