A JUDGE has branded a law “toothless” for stopping him giving a thug an eight-year sentence for “appalling” violence against strangers.

Instead, Judge Scott Wolstenholme could only pass a five-year extended sentence on Samuel Mark Ackroyd for leaving one complete stranger with a broken cheekbone and another with broken teeth, and both with blurred vision.

The 24-year-old also attacked three other people during drink-fuelled violence.

The sentence could see Ackroyd released after only two years in jail.

Four years ago, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC warned Ackroyd: “There’s something wrong with you. This is unnatural behaviour.”

He was sentencing the thug for kicking a 60-year-old victim in the head after knocking him to the ground.

Despite getting a suspended sentence, after his father told the judge he was reforming his drinking habits, Ackroyd continued the career of violence he began when he was 16.

Judge Scott Wolstenholme heard yesterday at York Crown Court how he attacked two strangers outside their home in a block of flats and a third stranger in a pub last year.

“The circumstances of these offences are appalling,” the judge told Ackroyd. “Without a shred of provocation or excuse, you have left two victims severely traumatised and you have used violence towards other people as well.”

He sentenced Ackroyd to four years in prison, plus an extended licence period of four years’ supervision so probation officers can keep a close eye on him.

Then he was told a change in the law stopped him passing a sentence of more than five years and reduced the licence to one year.

“The amendment has rendered the legislation even more toothless than I had supposed,” the judge said.

Howard Shaw, prosecuting, said victims John Ellis and Leah Lawn were watching television in their first-floor flat on April 10 when Ackroyd, who had been drinking, started banging on their door and shouting.

When they answered the door, he said he had got the wrong flat and was asked to leave. Mr Ellis, who took a baseball bat with him to the door, prodded Ackroyd when he did not leave. Ackroyd disarmed him and knocked him to the ground.

Then, while an unknown man held Mr Ellis on the ground, Ackroyd repeatedly kicked and punched him in the head.

Ms Lawn tried to push him off and was punched in the head and kicked below the chin.

Ackroyd leapt from a second-floor window, but was arrested nearby.

Mr Ellis now has blurred vision and two broken teeth, among other injuries. Ms Lawn suffered lesser injuries.

While on bail, Ackroyd punched barman Vincent Edwards at the Castle Howard Ox pub in Townend Street, The Groves, on July 7. Twenty minutes later he put an arm round stranger Donna Allen as she sat at the bar with her husband, John.

When Mr Allen politely objected, Ackroyd punched him in the face, saying: “Who do you think you are?” and broke his cheekbone. Mr Allen, who had recently had an operation for cataracts, needed three metal plates inserting into his face. Ackroyd then fought with another man.

Ackroyd, of East Parade, Heworth, pleaded guilty to two charges of causing grevious bodily harm, one of causing actual bodily harm and one of affray.

His barrister, Laura Addy, said he recognised he had a problem with alcohol and was remorseful for his actions. When not in drink he was a very different person.

His family were very supportive but “do not condone anything he does”. On his release, he wanted to work on oil rigs.