The 22-year-old said he genuinely believed the woman he punched in the head in Barnstaple was a man.

A hotel worker has been fined for hitting a woman – who he thought was a man.

Nathan Hull, 22, of Belmont Road, Barnstaple, pleaded guilty to the assault outside of The Tavern pub in Barnstaple last month.

North Devon Magistrates Court heard the pair were drunkenly ‘barging’ into each other on the dance floor.

Hull and the victim went outside where he punched her in the face – right in front of two police officers.

He was arrested but when interviewed was surprised to learn the victim was female.

Laurence Overend, defending, said: “He genuinely believed the victim was male and was absolutely adamant had he known the victim was female, he never would have got into a confrontation.”

Magistrates fined Hull £275 plus ordered him to pay the victim £100 compensation.

Lead magistrate Paul Cooper added: “To actually punch someone with a closed fist in the head is completely unacceptable and very serious, whether they are male or female.”