A THUG who took part in what a judge described as a savage group attack has narrowly avoided following his friends to prison.

In the early hours of March 25, 2018, Charlie Coleman was walking on a bridge across County Way, Trowbridge, with Harry Biberger and Corri Nickle when they accosted victim Jan Paliwoda, who was on the way home from a 50th birthday party with his wife.

One of the young men struck Mr Paliwoda, while the others the kicked him as he lay on the ground. When the victim’s wife tried to protect her husband she was knocked down. Mr Paliwoda covered her with his body to try and protect her.

Shocking photographs of the man’s face showed him bloodied and bruised. Biberger and Nickle were both given 22 month jail sentences.

Prosecuting, Tessa Hingston said: “It is clear it’s a miracle that Mr Paliwoda did not receive more serious injuries to his head. Nevertheless, the injuries he did receive were shocking.”

Coleman, of Stratton on the Fosse, admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and in May Judge Robert Pawson deferred sentencing the 20-year-old. He imposed three conditions: that he stay in employment; commit no further offences; and save a significant sum in compensation.

And while Coleman was said to have abided by the first two, earning around £1,800 a month, Judge Pawson grew incredulous after hearing he had only saved around £1,000 since his May – but had also bought a car and had hopes of getting a house.

The £1,000 saved didn’t come close to expectations, the judge said. He told the court: “At the moment I feel Mr Coleman is fencing with me and this [his liberty] is in the balance.”

After hearing that Coleman could pay more, Judge Pawson ordered he pay a £5,200 compensation at a rate of £350 a month.

Sentencing him to 20 months imprisonment suspended for two years, the judge added: “You’re 20. You were involved in March 2018 in a savage group attack when drunk – an unprovoked attack on a man and his wife.

“He was kicked by the group when he was on the ground. The attack was sustained. It was a group attack, three on two – but of course of the two one was a woman and you were strangers.

“I have seen the photographs of your primary victim and they are shocking.

“You’ve come within a whisker of going to prison.”