A GANG of drunken teenagers launched a savage attack on a brave Royal Navy sailor who tried to stop them killing an injured seagull.

One of the 18-year-olds found the bird near Torquay Harbour and was in the process of stamping it to death when the off-duty serviceman and his girlfriend intervened.

The four youths turned their aggression on him and he was punched to the ground and kicked in the head as lay defenceless in the road.

The attack happened at 3am after the teens had left nearby clubs. One of them had already attacked a random stranger and they were said to be ‘spoiling for a fight’.

CCTV showed them hunting down the sailor and carrying on their attack even after the police arrived. Two of them also assaulted the police as they tried to stop the violence.

The victim was left covered in bruises, needing stitches in a split lip and a broken finger. He was forced to miss and inter-service athletics event where he was due to represent the Royal Navy.

Adrian Heaps, now aged 19, of Crowther’s Hill, Dartmouth; Matthew Fardoe, aged 18, of The Gurneys, Paignton; Deniz Duman, aged 19, of Plantation Way, Torquay, and Charles Laybourne, aged 19, of Foxhole Road, Paignton, all admitted assault causing actual bodily harm.

Heaps admitted a separate battery and assaulting an emergency worker while Fardoe admitted two assaults on emergency workers.

They were all given one year community orders with differing amounts of unpaid work and other conditions by Judge James Townsend at Exeter Crown Court. They were each ordered to pay £150 compensation to the victim.

The judge told them: 'This was a quite appalling incidence of sustained violence committed when you had all drunk far too much. To make matters worse, when the police tried to restore order, the violence continued and, disgracefully, officers were attacked.

'It is lucky that you are not facing significantly more serious charges. Violence of this sort, and particularly kicking people on the ground, can lead to very serious injury or on some occasions, death.'

The judge said he was not sending the defendant to jail because they were young, immature, had no similar convictions, showed their remorse and pleaded guilty.

Mr Simon Burns, prosecuting, said the violence happened at around 3am on Saturday September 3 last year. It started with Heaps assaulting a stranger near the clock tower and carried on at the harbourside.

The sailor’s girlfriend remonstrated with one of the group about them killing a seagull and this led Duman to start the attack, which the others joined in, although Laybourne only landed one punch and did not get involved in the kicking.

The sailor wrote a victim impact statement saying he had so many grazes and cuts that he was finding it hard to sleep and felt ‘as if I was sticking to the sheets’.

Mr Burns said: 'These defendants were spoiling for a fight and the catalyst for the violence was an injured seagull being stamped on. It led to drunken, yobbish behaviour and sustained and horrific violence.'

Lawyers representing the four men said they had all been shocked by their actions when shown the CCTV by police. They all acted out of character and have learned from this episode of immature behaviour.