A deranged worshipper attacked a 69-year-old church warden and a Baptist minister after demanding to be allowed to pray inside a locked church.

Trevor White punched and kicked warden Redwood in a sustained assault during which he fought off three people who tried to come to his rescue.

The attack was directly outside the St Mary Magdalene Church in North Street, South Molton, and was seen by Baptist minister Andy Jarvis, whose home happens to be nearby.

He went to help Mr Redwood but was also attacked, being punched to the ground and left with suspected fractured ribs.

CCTV showed a dog walker and a passer-by on crutches trying to intervene before White broke off the attack and walked away.

He went on to attack a woman shopkeeper in neighbouring Duke Street after asking her to give him a glass of 'God's water'.

White was spared a jail sentence after a judge at Exeter Crown Court heard that he was suffering from a psychotic illness at the time of the attacks.

White, aged 51, of Bish Mill, near South Molton, admitted causing actual bodily harm and three counts of battery and was made subject to a three-year community order with 26 days of rehabilitation activities.

Judge David Evans fined him £250 and ordered him to pay £650 compensation and £425 costs and told him he was taking into account that he had already spent ten weeks in custody.

He said: "You committed a deranged, brutal and protracted assault on a 69-year-old church warden. Mr Redwood has been left with ongoing consequences and I do not underestimate the physical hurt and fear that you caused.

"I have seen a report from the liaison and diversion service which makes clear you were in a disordered mental state as a result of the recurrence of a long standing psychosis."

Rhys Jenkins, prosecuting, said Mr Redwood was called out to the church when the alarm went off on the afternoon of September 25 this year.

He encountered White, who told him he needed to break into the church to pray and then launched the attack, which lasted several minutes and included punches, kicks and a stamp on his groin.

His spectacles were broken and he suffered facial bruising and a cut to his ear. He is still suffering a partial loss of hearing and problems with his balance.

Mr Jarvis, who is a Baptist minister at a different church, a dog walker, and a man on crutches all tried to stop the attack. The first two were both punched and Mr Jarvis was punched, kicked and forced to leave the scene. He went home to call the police.

The shopkeeper was punched, strangled and made a victim statement saying she thought he was going to kill her.

When he was arrested he told police 'the children will save me, you are all corrupt'.

Herc Ashworth, defending, said White has already served the equivalent of a five months sentence in custody. He was suffering from a severe bout of mental illness at the time but has since been treated in custody.

He is now stable and has support and stable accommodation to go to when he is released.