THREE men have been jailed after a man was viciously attacked and repeatedly hit with a shovel in Stourbridge town centre.

Ryan Claridge, of Barnett Lane, Kingswinford, Benjamin Payne, of Chapel Street, Brierley Hill, and Mark Flavell, of Albert Street, Pensnett, carried out a sustained assault on Robert Rolls, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

Mr Rolls, who suffered a brain injury seven years ago, was left unconscious on the pavement after the attack but "mercifully" his injuries were not too serious, said Lisa Hancox, prosecuting.

She added the victim had to have a cut on his arm stitched after being left battered and bruised.

It was accepted by the prosecution that Mr Rolls had been aggressive himself - tearing plants from a town centre display and cracking the windscreen on Flavell's van with a punch, in an earlier incident.

Miss Hancox said Claridge, aged 21, and Payne, aged 20, kicked out a number of times at the vulnerable Mr Rolls after there had been a slight scuffle between the men on Hagley Road.

She said Flavell then pulled up in his van and got out armed with the shovel.

Flavell, aged 44, then struck Mr Rolls about the head with the weapon, which was then passed by Payne to Claridge who also hit the victim a number of times with the shovel to the head area, added Miss Hancox.

Judge Amjad Nawaz told the three defendants it was only "good fortune" that the injuries suffered by Mr Rolls had not been severe as he stressed they had all "lost self control."

He added, "Members of the public who see this sort of behaviour in the street would be perturbed if sentences of immediate custody did not follow."

The judge said it was clear Claridge and Payne had been the worse for drink before they came across Mr Rolls, who had been aggressive and had punched one of the two men on the nose.

"You could have gone your own way but you did not and violence followed," he added.

"There was an element of goading before Mr Rolls was knocked to the ground before he was the target of a number of running kicks."

He told Flavell: "There was absolutely no need for you to have got out of your van but you did so and you elevated the incident because you used the shovel."

All three men admitted attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm.

The judge sent Payne to a Young Offenders Institution for 38 months because he did not admit his part in the attack until just before his trial was set to begin.

Flavell was sent to prison for three years while Claridge was put behind bars for two-and-a-half years with barristers for all three defendants maintaining to the court they were full of remorse and totally ashamed of their actions.