TWO thugs punched and kicked a man on the ground during a brawl over a singer’s performance at a birthday party.

David Carter and Bobby Loveday have escaped jail by the “skin of their teeth”.

The fight happened at the Horse and Groom pub, in Southend Road, Rochford.

As the party drew to a close, at 9pm on June 24 last year, the singer was coming to the end of her set, but Carter didn’t want it to end and asked the singer to carry on.

As he persisted, the party organiser became increasingly forceful and Loveday strode over and punched the man three times in the face, The victim got up and lashed out at Carter, punching him, and Loveday threw himself into the brawl. Following separate struggles, the pair returned to punch and kick the victim.

After this, Carter punched two more people who were trying to calm him down.

He fled the scene, but was arrested by officers a short time later in Queensland Avenue, Rochford. The 42-year-old, from St Cyrus Road, Colchester, admitted two counts of assault by beating. Following a trial he was found guilty of two counts of ABH and assault by beating.

Loveday, 28, of Queensland Avenue, Rochford, admitted ABH in connection with initial assault before Carter’s trial.

The men appeared at Basildon Crown Court on Friday for sentencing.

The court heard the pair were remorseful after a “ridiculously trivial” argument and the attacks were never planned.

Loveday was handed 15 months in prison suspended for 20 months, 200 hours unpaid work and must pay £1,000 compensation to the victim.

Carter received 20 months suspended for 24, a nine month alcohol treatment programme and ten days rehabilitation.

Judge Samantha Cohen said: “You have escaped jail by the skin of your teeth, you behaved appallingly that day.”