A group of street attackers who set on a passer-by in Barnstaple were caught because two of them dropped ID cards at the scene.

The group of car wash workers overreacted when a customer walking home from the Fever nightclub challenged them to a fight, saying ‘I’ll bang all three of you out’.

He came off worst with a battered face and suspected broken nose and has been suffering from anxiety and flashbacks ever since.

He returned to the scene to look for a gold chain which had fallen off in the struggle but instead found identity documents which two of the men had left at the scene.

Ionut-Auriel Stan, aged 23, who was living in Barnstaple at the time but has since moved to Malvern, Worcestershire, admitted causing actual bodily harm.

He was jailed for four months, suspended for a year, ordered to do 100 hours unpaid community work and pay £950 compensation and costs by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.

Constantin Dimitriu, aged 20, of Barnstaple, admitted affray at an earlier hearing and was jailed for six months, suspended for a year, and ordered to pay £700 compensation and £250 costs.

The third man, Andrei Buga, aged 23, failed to answer bail. He is thought to have moved to Romania and a warrant has been issued for his arrest if he returns to Britain.

Judge Johnson told Stan: “I am satisfied that he came towards you and swung the first blow towards you.

“It is what happened next that makes this a serious offence. You and the other two attacked him and you accept it went beyond self defence by a considerable margin. You each used your fists and kicked him.

“It is that which makes this particularly serious. Mercifully, the injuries were not the most serious, but the psychological injuries were.”

Heather Hope, prosecuting, said the fight happened on the Old Bridge in the early hours of April 7, 2019. They passed each other without incident but the complainant walked back across the bridge to look for a taxi and a confrontation ensued.

His victim impact statement said he is still suffering headaches, had to take five weeks off work, and has had to pay privately for head scans.

William Parkhill, defending, said Stan had only been living in this country for two months at the time and spoke very little English.

He has not been in trouble at all since and has concentrated of working and being a productive member of society. He did not start the violence and went too far in self-defence.