A pub customer has been ordered to pay compensation to a man and a woman who he attacked without warning.

Thomas Matthews went into the bar in Exmouth and went straight over to a woman who he grabbed by the hair and dragged to the ground. He then punched another man who had done nothing more than shake his hand.

The second victim was left needing 16 stitches to a cut lip after being punched as he stood up and then hit for a second time after he fell to the ground.

Matthews launched the first attack because of an argument about text messages but was seen on CCTV walking straight up to the woman as she stood near the bar and grabbing her by her hair.

He has been remanded in custody since the incident in June and was spared a jail sentence but warned he would go to prison if there is any more violence.

Carpenter Matthews, aged 32, of Roseway, Exmouth, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and battery and was made subject to a three-year community order by Judge Stephen Climie at Exeter Crown Court.

He ordered Matthews to go on a 19-session thinking skills course, do 30 days of rehabilitation activities, 100 hours of unpaid community work and serve a three-month overnight curfew.

He ordered a total of £1,100 compensation and imposed restraining orders banning contact with either victim for five years.

He told Matthews: “When people involve themselves in violence in public places they can expect to go to prison, which is where you have been. If you come back here again in the next three years, you will be going straight back.

“The time may be right to give you a chance to prove yourself, not just to the court but to yourself.”

Mr Paul Grumbar, prosecuting, said the CCTV of the two assaults was ‘quite violent and shocking’ and showed him grabbing the woman by the hair and punching the other man in the face.

A second punch which was delivered on the ground was not caught on the footage, which showed other customers pulling Matthews away. The injured man needed stitches and may suffer permanent scarring.

Matthews told police he acted in self defence because he thought there was something menacing in the way in which the man shook his hand. He claimed to be in fight-or-flight mode.

Miss Felicity Payne, defending, said Matthews has already served time while on remand and would be in a position to pay compensation if he were released because he plans to resume his job as a self-employed carpenter.

She said the probation service had identified a number of interventions which would reduce the risk of further offending.