A MAN punched his pal in the face, leaving him with a fractured eye socket, after he allegedly made an insulting comment about his mother.

Victim Mark Warburton needed surgery to insert metal plates and has been left with numbness to the side of his face.

But at Bolton Crown Court his attacker, 49-year-old James Turner, was told that, as he has stayed out of trouble since the incident three years ago, he had narrowly avoided going to jail immediately.

Patrick Williamson, prosecuting, told the court how Turner and Mr Warburton had been friends and on May 4, 2019, when they encountered each other on Parkfield Road, Bolton, Turner asked if he could borrow a chisel.

Turner was on his way to his parents’ house and Mr Warburton agreed to take the tool to him there.

Mr Williamson said Warburton was invited in and spent a couple of hours that evening talking and drinking with Turner and his family.

But, at around 10.30pm, Mr Warburton, who could remember little of the attack, recalled Turner being on top of him, punching him several times to the face.

“He believes he lost consciousness for a couple of minutes and when he regained consciousness he was lying on the living room floor and noticed a pool of blood next to him,” said Mr Williamson.

A family friend arrived at the house to find Turner lifting unconscious Mr Warburton into a chair.

“She asked the defendant, ‘What have you done? Look at what you’ve done’,” said Mr Williamson.

“The defendant’s response was to say he didn’t care and he walked off into the kitchen.”

An ambulance took Mr Warburton to hospital where doctors found he had injuries including a leg fracture and fractured eye socket, which needed several hours of surgery.

When questioned by police Turner, of Vernon Street, Bolton, initially claimed other people had attacked Mr Warburton and then stated that he had lost his temper when his friend mentioned his mother.

“The defendant says that during the conversations that were had between the group, Mr Warburton made some remarks which were extremely personal towards the defendant’s mother and the defendant acted accordingly,” said Mr Williamson.

“The complainant’s recollection is far from clear about what happened and the Crown do not consider that we could rebut sufficiently to the necessary standard of proof, what the defendant asserts.”

Turner, who pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm on the day of his trial, has convictions for 69 previous offences, although they are mostly for thefts, and he was on licence, having been released from prison, at the time of the assault.

Wayn Jackson, defending, told the court; “He feels deeply ashamed over what he did.”

He added that, in the last three years Turner has cut down his alcohol consumption and use of heroin and has not committed any further offences.

Recorder Peter Horgan sentenced Turner to two years in prison, suspended for two years and ordered him to undertake an alcohol treatment programme as well as 32 days of rehabilitation activities.

Turner, who is on benefits, must also contribute £500 towards compensation for Mr Warburton.