A man launched a brutal and unprovoked attack on a stranger at a bus stop then phoned the police to boast that he would be hard to find. The victim had been out with friends and colleagues celebrating his retirement from work when he was assaulted and left unconscious on the street.

Swansea Crown Court heard Dylan Forbes has a long history of violent offending including inflicting grievous bodily harm and multiple assaults occasioning actual bodily harm as well as batteries. The defendant's barrister told the court that since being released from his last custodial sentence he had taken steps to turn his life around including starting a business with a friend.

Sian Cutter, prosecuting, said on the evening of August 7, 2021, the 58-year-old complainant in the case had gone out with colleagues and friends to mark his retirement from work, and by 11pm was at a bus stop on The Parade in Neath town centre waiting for a lift home.

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The court heard that Forbes was also in Neath that night and it seemed he "took exception" to the way he thought the complainant looked at him. The defendant went up to the victim and asked him what he was looking at, and then grabbed the man by the throat and threatened to snap his neck. Forbes then delivered a powerful butt to the man's head which left him unconscious on the floor. The court heard numerous witnesses reported seeing the defendant delivering a series of forceful kicks to the man's head before fleeing in a waiting car. For the latest court reports, sign up to our crime newsletter here

The prosecutor said police arrived and found the bloodied and bruised man - who had by now regained consciousness - still at the scene. The complainant was taken to Morriston Hospital and was found to have a neck sprain, swelling and abrasions to the face, mild concussion, and a missing tooth. He has since had to pay to have the dental damage repaired. In a victim statement read to the court the man said the unprovoked assault had left him in pain and feeling shaken, and said it had knocked his self-confidence and the incident had impacted his whole family. He said he had worked hard all his life and on the night in question was out celebrating his retirement, adding it was "disgusting" that the defendant had felt it acceptable to do what he did.

Dylan Ashley Forbes, of St Clears Place, Penlan, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He has previous convictions for 25 offences including inflicting grievous bodily harm when he was a youth, three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm - one of which saw him butting a prison officer in the face and breaking his nose and another involving an attack on a former partner - being concerned in the supply of crack cocaine driving with excess alcohol, blackmail, criminal damage, harassment, and batteries.

Judge Geraint Walters asked the prosecutor about the delay in the case coming to court, and noted since the offence in August 2021 the defendant had served a significant prison sentence of three years and four months. Miss Cutter said police had identified Forbes as a suspect for the assault and he had rang officers to tell them he was going to make himself difficult to find - she said the defendant was indeed difficult to locate and it wasn't until some seven moths after the assault that he was interviewed. She said some of the delay in the case could also be explained by difficulties in obtaining medical evidence and establishing the level of injury.

Stuart John, for Forbes, said over the 10 months since his release from his last custodial sentence the defendant had stayed out of trouble, started a new business with a friend, and had "acquired a degree of objectivity" about his life and behaviour. He said it was accepted that if the defendant had been before the court in 2021 or 2022 "to use a colloquial phrase his feet would not have touched the ground" and he would have received a custodial sentence but he said the person in the dock was a different person to the one who carried out the "appalling assault" in Neath.

Judge Geraint Walters told Forbes he had carried out a "shameful, merciless and unjustified assault" on a wholly innocent member of the public. He said the complainant had done nothing to deserve the "brutal beating" he had received, and said on the night in question Forbes had used "extreme force" and had had "the capacity to kill".

The judge said had the defendant been brought to court as he should have been in 2021 he would have received a prison sentence of around three years for the assault but due to "the incompetence of others" he had received a lucky break. He said it seemed the defendant had taken steps to turn his life around over the last 10 months after serving a significant custodial sentence, and he asked rhetorically how he could justify sending him back to prison now. Judge Walters said: "That is the price of delay. You have benefited from it, nobody else has." He described the way the case has been dealt with as "calamitous".

With a one-third discount for his guilty plea Forbes was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to complete a rehabilitation course and a thinking skills programme. The defendant was also ordered to pay his victim £3,000 compensation at a rate of £100 a week.

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