A MAN who assaulted a former friend who had disowned him when he came out as gay has been spared a jail term.
Edward Horne, 22, of Calne, had been left upset when he was dropped by the victim, whom he had known since school, when he revealed his sexuality.
In the early hours of Sunday, March 2, Horne met Levi Sanders in a fast food outlet after they had both been out drinking.
And after the victim had made a string of homophobic comments to him Horne landed one punch - knocking him out cold as he hit his head on the ground.
But after hearing he never been in trouble before and had been provoked into the assault, a judge imposed a community order.
Claire Marlow, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court on Friday that the men had been at school together and had been friends for a long time.
"As far as the defendant is concerned their friendship came to an end when he told Mr Sanders his sexuality, he being gay," she said.
After they bumped into each other in the take away she said words were exchanged and witnesses talked of them 'pushing and shoving'.
Horne then landed a single punch which rendered his victim unconscious after he hit his head on the ground.
When he was questioned he told police about their relationship breaking down and said he lashed out as he felt scared by Sanders' behaviour.
"He said he felt threatened. He said Mr Sanders was making homophobic comments," she said.
Horne, of Thomas Court, London Road, Calne, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing grievous bodily harm.
Tristan Harwood, defending, said it was completely out of character for his client who had never been in trouble with the police.
"Both Mr Horne and Mr Sanders were close friends, very close friends, until Mr Horne told him he was gay and the relationship broke down," he said.
"Mr Horne feels the pain of having lost a friend and then it comes to this.
"Really if he had acted more carefully on the evening and walked away he would not be here.
"Witnesses say they heard him saying 'Get out, get out,' and he is replied to by Mr Sanders 'Make me'."
He said there seemed to be no lasting injury to the victim and told the court his client had told his employers about what happened.
Passing sentence Recorder Harry Martineau said: "The courts see too many cases of injuries inflicted when people have had too much to drink.
"While it is an explanation for people losing their self control and their judgement it is no excuse. It tends to make things worse.
"You have in your favour the fact that this is the first time you have ever stood in the dock and I trust it will be the last."
He imposed a one-year community order with supervision and told him to pay a £60 victim surcharge.