A MAN who left one of his best friends with a broken cheekbone in a drunken assault has walked free from court.

Trevor Davies, who has a history of violence including attacking two hospital workers when he was a patient, headbutted the pal during a late night row.

But despite telling the 31-year-old the case was so serious to merit custody, a judge at Swindon Crown Court suspended the jail term.

Claire Marlow, prosecuting, said Davies and the victim Dean Skinner had known each other for about 20 years.

On the night of Friday, December 29 she said the defendant had gone to the home of the victim's girlfriend with a number of other people to play poker.

After a boozy night she said Davies left between 11pm and midnight in a good mood as far as Mr Skinner was concerned as he had won at poker.

Soon after Mr Skinner called Davies' girlfriend Sandra Wilson asking if he could come over to her house on Whitbourne Avenue.

She agreed and he arrived there at about 2am and continued drinking with the couple and two other people.

About an hour later Davies and Miss Wilson started to have an argument and Mr Skinner decided to intervene, she said.

However Davies became angry as his friend was not backing him up and taking his side in the disagreement.

He then headbutted Mr Skinner once to the face leaving him covered in blood and with a broken cheek bone. As a result of the attack he had to undergo an operation which required a stay in hospital.

When he was questioned by police Davies said he had rowed with his girlfriend earlier in the evening and had not wanted Mr Skinner to visit after the poker.

However, as it was her home she asked him round and there had been some pushing and shoving between the men, but he had not headbutted him.

Davies, of Fosseway Court, Curtis Street, pleaded guilty to a charge of grievous bodily harm.

Mike Pulsford, defending, said his client accepted what he had done and was astounded to learn of the injuries he had caused.

He said in the past Davies had problems with cannabis and amphetamines as well as drink.

A few years ago he said he was with an American girlfriend and they had a child together but after going home for a visit she never returned, taking the child with her. Davies then tried to commit suicide and when he came round in hospital he assaulted two security guards who were holding him to his bed, he said.

He added that his client had not drunk since the incident at the turn of the year and was looking to get back to work.

Passing sentence Recorder Nicholas Haggan QC said: "In my opinion your offence is so serious neither a fine nor a community sentence can be justified for it."

He imposed an eight-month jail term suspended for 18 months and told him to do 80 hours of community service.