A SHERIFF branded a savage attack in Alexandria which almost blinded a schoolboy in one eye as “an act of brutal and wanton violence”.

But cowardly thug Richard Mann, 18, walked free from court this week, escaping a jail term he was previously told to expect.

Surgeons swiftly operated and managed to save the sight of the 16-year-old victim, who was punched, kicked and had his head used like a human football during, what was described as, “a completely unprovoked attack” while he was out buying lunch with his pals on March 23, this year on Main Street.

Such was the extent of the severe beating, the victim suffered a detached retina in his right eye, along with bruises and wounds on his head and body.

Vicious Mann, who turned 18 years-old last Friday, and can now be legally named, has been promised a job, and the sheriff told the attacker that was one of the main reasons he was not being sent to prison.

 Mann, of Manse Drive, Haldane, was put on a community payback order with two years of supervision by Sheriff William Gallacher. 

He was also ordered to carry out the maximum of 300 hours of unpaid work within 12 months and pay his young victim £1,000 in compensation at £25 per week. 

During the attack, the victim was also pushed into a garden fence and pleaded with Mann to stop, asking: “What have I done?”

But the beating only halted when a Good Samaritan stepped out from her vehicle to intervene.

Mann, who calls himself “wee Richie” on his Facebook page, admitted at Dumbarton Sheriff Court to repeatedly punching his victim on the head, pushing the boy into a garden fence, seizing him by the body, throwing him to the ground, repeatedly punching him on the head and body and stamping on his body, all to the youngster’s injury.

Prosecutor Kevin Doherty said: “At 12.35pm the victim and two other school friends, aged 16 and 14, headed towards Alexandria town centre. They went to a shop to buy some lunch.

“While there, they noticed Mann, who was known to them. The three boys walked past him but became aware of Mann running up behind the boy.

“He punched him a number of times to the head and it’s completely unknown what the cause was for him to act in this manner. It was a completely unprovoked attack.

“After punching him, Mann pushed him at a garden fence and the victim was saying: ‘What’s happening? What have I done?’ But that was to no avail.”

The court heard the attack continued with Mann punching his young victim on the head and body. The boy was on the ground crying and attempting to cover his face, pleading for Mann to stop.

“But he continued to repeatedly kick him on the head and body,” added Mr Doherty. “The complainer got on his feet, only to be punched on the face, causing him to fall to the ground. Then Mann stamped on his body.”

The court was told the attack only stopped when a woman stopped her car to intervene.

The victim managed to get to his feet and the woman took him to his grandmother’s house, before he was taken to Vale of Leven Hospital.

His injuries were so severe he was transferred to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, in Paisley, where it was later discovered he had sustained a detached retina in his right eye, along with various bruises, abrasions to his head and body and a black eye.

He continued: “He required surgery to repair the detached retina and it was carried out by way of general anaesthetic. A later examination confirmed that the surgery was successful and he has since made a full recovery. But without surgery he may well have been permanently blinded in that eye.”

Defence lawyer Kenny Clark said: “From the outset Mann recognises the gravity of these matters and the situation he finds himself in. A full background report is available as well as a letter offering him employment.

“Little can be said in mitigation. He reacted in an entirely inappropriate manner and is remorseful. He realises the impact it will have on his victim and is relieved not just for himself but the boy, who has made a full recovery from the injury.

“His life has settled down and has had a girlfriend for 10 months. He no longer associates with the peer group he hung about with previously.

“His employment will bring him £180 to £200 a week. Not withstanding the gravity of the offence, it can be dealt with other than custody, with a compensation order. It would give him the chance to get on with his life.”

Sheriff William Gallacher said: “In the middle of the day you attacked him in a savage and brutal manner and continued the violence as he lay on the ground. He beseeched you to stop.

“This was vicious and brutal. This was an act of wanton violence and of sustained brutality with a catastrophic outcome.

“He required surgery to fix his eye and there is nothing else your lawyer could have said on your behalf beyond forgiveness.

“He will have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life.

“Your lawyer has persuaded me, just, and only just, not to send you to prison. I take into account everything he said and the fact you have found yourself a job.

“This was a disgraceful attack on a young boy. The level of violence was extreme, long and sustained.”

Mann only spent a short time in custody in April for the attack, before being bailed by the court with the condition not to approach his victim.