A MAN who carried out a prolonged attack on a dad while his victim’s young son looked on has walked free from court.

Horrified witnesses saw Stephen McBride grab hold of his victim outside the Vale of Leven Swimming Pool in Alexandria after shouting and swearing at him from inside his van.

The victim’s son was left “screaming and distressed” after witnessing the attack on his dad, a court heard.

McBride admitted assaulting his victim by repeatedly punching and kicking him outside the pool on May 21.

But a sheriff back-tracked on his threat to send the thug to prison.

McBride, of Northfield Road in Bonhill, also admitted behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by shouting, swearing and making threats of violence.

Prosecutor Martina McGuigan told Dumbarton Sheriff Court: “There had been a fall out between McBride and his victim’s family.

“A father had taken his nine-year-old son to Vale of Leven Swimming Pool and was leaving to take him to a running club at 4pm when the accused rolled down the window of his van and shouted to the man ‘you’re a f****** w*****, you’re going to get it’.

“Another witness was aware of the shouting in the car park. McBride walked around to the back of the van towards the victim.

“He was told to back off, but McBride refused. Witnesses told the young boy to go away, but he didn’t move.

“McBride walked forward, grabbed the boy’s father by his hooded top and assaulted him.

“He punched and kicked him to the head and body, with the man trying to break free.

“The child was screaming and distressed as the assault continued.

“[The victim] fell to the ground. A number of people gathered around and tried to help.”

McBride got back into his van and drove off, while the victim, who suffered bruising and swelling to his left eye, and his son went home.

McBride’s solicitor, Jonathan Paul, said: “There was a lot of tension between my client and the victim’s family. He clearly dealt with it the wrong way.

“He should not have got out of the van and confronted him.

“This was not a random attack. It was utterly stupid. It was a build up over a long period of time.

“On this day he snapped and his actions were completely reprehensible.”

Mr Paul said his client had a criminal record which was “not impressive” but insisted McBride was “not, by nature, a violent man”.

Sheriff Gallacher briefly adjourned the case to consider his verdict, sending McBride down to the court cells to await the outcome.

Before the short adjournment, the sheriff told McBride: “You created it and caused the prolonged attack in front of a child while you carried out the attack.

“It is a case of how long you are going into custody – not if I’m sending you to prison.”

But when he returned, the sheriff backtracked on his warning and instead put McBride on a community payback order, telling him to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work – the maximum allowed – within six months.