A brief and misinterpreted exchange about a cigarette led to a brutal bar beating, a court has heard. Sam Stirrup lashed out after thinking the words were about his sexuality and punched and kicked his victim leaving him bloodied and bruised.

A judge at Swansea Crown Court told Stirrup that if everyone took exception to comments made in busy pubs and resorted to violence "it would be like the Wild West". The defendant's barrister said the father-of-two wished to apologise for his actions.

Caitlin Brazel, prosecuting, said the assault took place in the Met Bar in Llanelli town centre in the early hours of the morning of July 24, 2022. She said Stirrup and the defendant – who were not known to each other – had a brief conversation about a cigarette which the defendant took to be a reference to his sexuality. He responded by kicking his victim "with full force" in the face causing the man's head to "snap back" before grabbing his hair and banging his head down on a chair and then punching him to the temple.

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The police were called and door staff pointed the defendant out to the officers who arrested him and took him to Ammanford station. Stirrup answered "no comment" to all questions asked saved to say he had been out on the town that night and that he had no problem with people who were gay.

In an impact statement that was read to the court by the prosecutor the victim said he believed he had been targeted because of his sexuality. He said if an attack like the one he experienced could happen in his hometown where he knew people and felt safe he dreaded to think what could happened elsewhere. He added that he was now less open about his sexuality.

Sam Laurence Stirrup, of Westbury Street, Llanelli, had previously pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He has seven previous convictions for 12 offences including an assault on a police officer when he was a youth. For the latest court reports sign up to our crime newsletter here.

Freddie Lewendon, for Stirrup, said the defendant realises he was mistaken about comments made during the brief exchange in the pub involving the words "fag" and "straight" and wishes to apologise for his actions. The barrister said his client had been candid about his "problematic" consumption of alcohol which he used as a coping mechanism and said he was taking steps to address that issue. He said the father-of-two had previously been ridiculed about his own sexuality which, while not an excuse for this actions, provided some background to the incident. He added that there had been a "significant delay" in the case even though the incident had been captured on CCTV.

Judge Paul Thomas KC told the defendant that on the night in question it was clear he had drunk far too much alcohol before displaying a "concerning level of spontaneous violence". He told Stirrup that if everyone took exception to comments made in crowded bars "it would be like the Wild West". The judge said the victim believed he had been targeted because of his sexuality but the court accepted that was not the case. With a one-quarter discount for his guilty plea Stirrup was sentenced to 30 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and must complete a rehabilitation course and 150 hours of unpaid work. The defendant will also have to pay his victim £300 in compensation.

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