A FORMER Royal Navy seaman from west Cumbria attacked a cabbie after staggering drunkenly into the path of his taxi during a Carlisle night out.

Michael Sherwen, 22, who had got drunk during his "leaving party", forced taxi driver Barry Lyons to do an emergency stop because he staggered into Botchergate on Sunday, March 16, magistrates heard.

But when Mr Lyons got out of his taxi to tell Sherwen he almost run him over and he needed to be more careful, the defendant turned violent, first attacking the taxi driver and then turning his anger on the door of his victim's vehicle, causing more than £1,000 worth of damage.

A district judge at Carlisle Magistrates' Court was told that Sherwen, from Greenlands Avenue, Whitehaven, was currently travelling in South America, but his defence lawyer John Smith entered a guilty plea on the defendant's behalf to charges of common assault and criminal damage.

Diane Jackson, prosecuting, said the violence happened at around 7.30pm.

"Mr Sherwen had been out drinking with friends in Botchergate on March 16, and at 7.30pm, while very drunk, he walked into the road in front of a taxi driven by Mr Lyons, who was carrying a passenger.

"He got out and told Mr Sherwen to be careful as he had been forced to do an emergency stop. The defendant then punched Mr Lyons in the head six times."

The shocked victim rushed back to his vehicle and slammed his driver door shut, but Sherwen pursued him.

Mrs Jackson said: "The defendant punched and kicked the taxi's door."

The attack was witnessed by the victim's passenger and other people who were in the area.

The taxi's door was dented, and cost £1,043 to repair, said Mrs Jackson.

John Smith, for Sherwen, said that a law firm colleague had taken a phone call from the defendant before the hearing.

The defendant - a man with no previous convictions - had requested a guilty plea be entered on his behalf.

Mr Smith said: "At the moment, he has no income. He was employed by the Royal Navy but left in January and was living at home. He decided to travel to South America. He is currently in Ecuador and intending to travel to Asia and Australia and to return to this country in July.

"This occurred on the night when he was having his farewell party before travelling to South America. He is very remorseful and shocked by his behaviour. He can't remember much about the incident at all. He puts that down to alcohol. I can't dispute the prosecution evidence."

District Judge Gerald Chalk said the assault was sustained and drink-fuelled, and aimed at a person providing a public service.

"The location could easily have involved other people," said the judge.

"And substantial damage was caused to a vehicle which is central to the [victim's] employment."

The judge imposed a 12 month community order, with 140 hours of unpaid work to be completed when Sherwen returns to the UK.

He must also pay compensation to the victim of £1,043 for his taxi and £200 for the assault, along with £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.