A drunken thug ‘celebrated’ after knocking a man unconscious outside a pub on New Year’s Day.

Ashley Palmer’s friends also told passers-by not to ‘mess with the Melksham boys’ after he left his victim with a double break to the jaw in the violent attack.

Palmer, 22, who has previous convictions for drunken violence in 2008 and 2010, has been jailed for 16 months. He had only just been allowed back into the Tavern Inn after being barred.

Earlier on New Year’s Eve some other people in his group had been goading another young man who was with his brother and their girlfriends.

Bouncers stepped in and threw out Palmer’s group.

Claire Marlow, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court the youths hung around outside in the street.

In the early hours the brothers and their partners left the pub and Palmer yelled at them: ‘We’re going to kick your heads in’, to which one of the brothers replied: ‘Come on, then’, which the doormen thought was just talk.

But Palmer approached one of the brothers and slapped him.

Miss Marlow said the victim was out cold on the pavement. He was taken to hospital for an operation on the double fracture and was kept in for a week, undergoing further surgery later Palmer of Burnet Close, Melksham, initially pleaded not guilty to grievous bodily harm, but changed his plea on the day of trial before a jury could be sworn in.

Alex Daymond, defending, said when he was sober his client was a kind, insightful, mild-mannered man.

But he had now realised that in drink he turned to violence to ‘live up to the reputation he thinks he has’.

Since the latest incident he said he had cut back on his drinking considerably and was dedicating his time to his family, playing football and his plumbing business.

Jailing him Judge Euan Ambrose said “Witnesses described seeing you celebrating what you had done. You were in a group who have considered violence to be acceptable and you being part of that.”