A THUG lashed out at a man with a hammer after a row in the street.

Victim Lee Philburn was smashed over the head twice with the weapon in a vicious attack by Gary Foulkes.

Foulkes, aged 38, initially claimed he had acted in self defence but, at Bolton Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm and was jailed for eight months.

Simon Blakeborough, prosecuting, told how, on the evening of June 6, Mr Philburn had returned to his home after work and was enjoying a drink in Newby Road, Breightmet, with his family and several others.

At around 10pm Mr Philburn saw three men walking along the street, including Foulkes, who made a comment.

"Mr Philburn didn't hear exactly what that was but there had been some history between the two because Mr Philburn then accused him of previously stealing a bike that belonged to his daughter," said Mr Blakeborough, who added that the pair began arguing.

Foulkes swung a fist at Mr Philburn and then the men began scuffling.

"It is not exactly clear what happened but the Crown's case it that, during the course of that scuffle, the defendant took out, from somewhere on his person, a hammer which he used to strike Mr Philburn on at least two occasions on his head, " said Mr Blakeborough.

The victim fell to the ground and was cut by glass which was already on the ground. He was taken to hospital but his injuries were not severe.

In a statement to police he said: "I am gobsmacked at events. I was sat in the garden having a drink after work with my family. I didn't expect to get attacked in my own neighbourhood."

Foulkes, of Ashness Place, Breightmet, was arrested and immediately returned to prison as, at the time of the offence, the prolific thief was on licence after being sentenced for burglary.

Nicholas Ross, defending, stressed that the attack on Mr Philburn had not been premeditated.

"The defendant accepts, on mature reflection, that he was the one who overstepped the mark and he accepts his guilt," said Mr Ross.

"He regrets the whole matter. Fortuitously, it's clear that the injuries suffered were not as serious as might have been."

Sentencing Foulkes, Judge Timothy Stead said: "It was not just a weapon used, it was a hammer which is particularly serious.You used it, not merely to injure, but to strike blows to someone's head."