AN INNOCENT shopper who was brutally beaten by a group of thugs has said he is lucky to be alive after one of his attackers was jailed for four years.

Aaron Hudnott, 19, led a vicious gang assault on a random man ‘for fun’ in July last year, and was joined by between six and 10 others who have all escaped prison.

Stephen Chamberlain, 48, needed hospital treatment for a broken nose, severe bruising and swelling and a broken tooth after the assault outside Asda Walmart on July 29 last year.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how at about 10.30pm the off-duty shop manager was loading a coffee table into his car when he saw a group of youths approaching him from the direction of a nearby pub.

As they neared Hudnott, who was grinning and sniggering, said to him ‘That’s mine’, pointing at the piece of furniture before repeating ‘That’s mine, I’m having it’.

He then grabbed at the table, before going nose to nose with Mr Chamberlain and snarling ‘And now I want everything else you’ve got’.

As the slightly-built victim asked his attacker to leave him alone, and lightly pushed him away, the teenager and between six and ten youths then set about him.

“It appeared the group wanted to give him a severe beating and a severe beating he received,” Mr Meeke said.

One of the attackers, who had a plaster cast on his arm, used it as a club to beat the victim before they kicked and punched him to the ground.

“He described forming the position we have seen all too often after putting his arms over his head to protect it, curling up in a ball. He was kicked, punched, stamped on maybe a dozen times.”

Mr Chamberlain said he can’t remember much of the incident, but he is thankful to be alive.

“It was just a completely random attack,” he said. “They did not stop when they should have done. I can remember very little of what happened, because I just blacked out.”

He has had to deal with the frustration of seeing his attackers in court knowing they would not be prosecuted.

“The disappointing thing is there were 11 of them there that day, and a number of them have admitted to being there,” he said. “But because there wasn’t enough evidence against them they have been let off.

“I was so fortunate to survive it. They had left me for dead, and did not care what happened to me. All it would have taken was one kick to go wrong and make it a very different story.”

Hudnott, of Mason Road, Abbey Meads, pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery.

Alex Daymond, defending, said: “Having had time to reflect he is appalled by what he has done. He thought it would be fun to go and frighten someone. It wasn’t. It got out of hand,” he said.

Jailing him Judge Philip Wassall said: “You were in the van of the initial attack. What followed was a sickening attack using violence way beyond what was necessary to obtain the table.”