A FORMER member of Bradford City's academy has been spared immediate jail for attacking two men outside a nightclub because his case took nearly two years to come to court.

Kieren Baker, 20, knocked out Jake Webster with one punch and then assaulted Mr Webster's friend on February 17, 2018, but gave himself up when police arrived soon afterwards.

However, Bradford Crown Court heard that delays in bringing the case meant that the Recorder of Bradford, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC, said he could only give him a suspended sentence.

Judge Durham Hall said if the case had come up more immediately he would not have had to impose "such a derisory sentence".

He said: "It is a disgraceful position the victims and courts are being placed in.

"There is a culture of delay. I have sought to understand as Recorder how it has arisen and how it carries on in case after case after case.

"It's an outcome I profoundly resent. The people who the victims will blame is me and I find that profoundly disagreeable."

He told Baker, of Larch Drive, Odsal, Bradford, who was just 18 at the time of the offence: "Locking you up is fairly pointless."

The court heard that Baker was on a night out at the Acapulco nightclub in Halifax with his girlfriend when she was bumped into by a group including Jake Webster and his friend Thomas Swaine.

Baker confronted them and the court was told he was put in a headlock and the pair were escorted out of the club by bouncers.

During the scuffle Baker, who was said to be in drink, lost his expensive watch and he thought that Mr Webster or Mr Swaine had stolen it.

He left the club himself at 12.30am and went looking for the men. CCTV film played in court showed Barker go up to Mr Webster, who had his back to him, and punch him once, knocking him out for 20 minutes and leaving him on the ground, bleeding heavily with a broken jaw and eye socket.

Mr Webster had to have two plates fitted to fix his injuries at Bradford Royal Infirmary and he sustained nerve damage and still could not feel his lip.

In a statement read to the court, he said his life had been changed by the attack and would never be the same again. He said he did not go out much any more.

Baker subsequently punched Mr Swaine who suffered a bruise above his eye and cut lip. He also said he did not go out much any more in a victim impact statement.

Baker was dragged away by his girlfriend but stayed in the area of the club and surrendered to police when they arrived.

The court heard that a member of staff from the club then brought out Baker's watch which had been found inside, apparently coming loose in the struggle.

The court was told Baker went to Lightcliffe Academy and was a member of Bradford City's and Blackburn Rovers' academies and had been offered a job at Bradford firm Powell UK after an apprenticeship.

Baker, who had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one charge of causing grievous bodily harm and one charge of causing actual bodily harm, was said to be of impeccable character with no previous convictions.

The judge said the starting point for an offence of this type was 18 months and he said a sentence of eight to 10 months would have followed upon a speedy resolution of the case with the appropriate credits taken into account, "which you would have served and then got on with your life".

Judge Durham Hall added that Baker had every prospect of rehabilitation and the delay in proceedings meant that it was now more sensible and appropriate that he be given a suspended sentence.

He sentenced him to nine and three months consecutively for the two attacks, suspended for two years.

He was ordered by the judge to pay £2,000 in compensation to Mr Webster, undertake 300 hours of unpaid work and be subject to a six-month curfew from 8pm to 6am.