A MAN who was released early from prison broke a York barmaid's nose after violence flared at a wake where he had drunk 20 pints.

Joe Smith, 26, knocked victim Ruth Roberts unconscious while she was on the phone to police reporting a "riot" involving about 30 people, York Crown Court heard - but he has been spared an immediate return to jail.

Instead he must pay Ms Roberts £900 compensation and must also comply with a four-month curfew banning him from leaving his house between 9pm and 5am.

Smith, of Hawthorn Terrace in New Earswick, had been at the funeral of Sam Wilson, pictured below, who was run over by a taxi after being attacked by a group in Haxby Road.

York Press:

Smith had been drinking heavily at the wake at Haxby Sports and Social Club on December 1 last year.

He was on prison licence, having been released partway through a four and a half year sentence he had received for drug dealing and breaking a man's eye socket.

Kathryn Stuckey, prosecuting, said Ms Roberts was phoning police after the "riot" broke out around 10pm, when Smith knocked her unconscious, broke her nose, gave her a black eye and damaged her cheek with a single blow.

Recorder David Dixon said Smith had drunk 20 pints during the wake.

He told Smith: "Your problem has always been drink. You drink too much, you get into violence, that leads you to court, you get sentenced, you deal with the sentence, you get drunk, more violence ... that seems to be the pattern that has been followed for many years now. You richly deserve to go to jail."

But because a probation officer had given an excellent report on how Smith was trying to put his violence behind him, the judge suspended a 15-month prison sentence on condition Smith does two years' supervision, 180 hours' unpaid work, observes a nightly curfew from 9pm to 5am for four months and goes on a rehabilitation programme. He must also pay £400 prosecution costs and a statutory surcharge as well as £900 compensation.

"You have got two years of hard work ahead of you," the judge told Smith.

Smith pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm.

His barrister Glenn Parsons said for most of the incident, Smith had been a watcher and not involved. But he said his client had been attacked and had punched out. He had not intended to hit Ms Roberts and was remorseful for his actions.

Since being released from prison, he had set up his own groundwork business.

In 2011, York Crown Court heard Smith and a friend broke another man's eye socket so badly his vision was damaged and he needed a metal plate inserting into his face.

Sentencing him then, the Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, described him as a "violent drug dealer" who had made between £8,000 to £9,000 from his illegal trade.