A street attacker who kicked a stranger’s teeth out in an unprovoked assault has been given a suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay him compensation.

Lawrence Smith attacked the neighbour near his home in Exmouth and left him covered in blood and with a serious facial injury. Police noticed blood on Smith’s trainers when they arrested him.

He launched the attack after behaving so strangely in Littleham Road during a Covid lockdown in January 2021 that the man was about to call the police. He carried on kicking him even after he fell to the ground and curled up in a ball to protect himself.

The injuries left him needing months of painful dental treatment and without his two front teeth. He said he would never forgive Smith in a victim personal statement which was read to Exeter Crown Court by his daughter.

Smith, aged 26, previously of Littleham Village, Exmouth, but now living in Surrey, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and was jailed for 20 months, suspended for two years and ordered to do 30 days of rehabilitation activities and pay £600 compensation by Judge Anna Richardson.

She told him: “The victim was left with his teeth knocked out and covered in blood. He explained to the police that you had been verbally abusive and he was so concerned about your behaviour that he followed you and considered calling the police.

“You came across him later and attacked him. You punched him, knocked him to the floor where he adopted the foetal position and you continued to punch and kick him. You told him to be quiet you would get into trouble.

“He got up momentarily but you knocked him back to the floor and continued kicking him in the teeth. He said the assault became more violent. You caused really nasty injuries.”

The judge said she was suspending the sentence because Smith had shown genuine remorse and made real efforts to improve himself during the three years since the attack and is assessed as a good prospect for rehabilitation by probation officers.

Miss Hollie Gilbery, prosecuting, said the attack happened near the victim’s home in the Littleham area of Exmouth on January 16, 2021, and left the victim without his front teeth and needing extensive dental work. He had severe facial bruising but no other fractures.

Mr Joss Ticehurst, defending, said Smith has asked him to make a public apology to the victim and is genuinely ashamed of his behaviour.

He was suffering from the mental strain of lockdown at the time but has moved away from Devon and now lives a more stable life and addressed his abuse of alcohol and drugs.