A FACTORY worker who was kicked in the head by a man claiming to be a victim of bullying has spoken out to clear his name.
Stephen Hitchen, 25, of Aspen Fold, Oswaldtwistle, was knocked unconscious and his skull was fractured during the assault which took place outside the Golden Cross pub on Union Road last March.
His attacker, John Street, 22, of Walmsley Close, Church, has been jailed for 18 months.
He was originally accused of attempted murder but pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm with intent.
He has been on a nightly curfew for the past 10 months.
Street told Preston Crown Court that he was a victim of bullying at primary school and one of those involved was said to have been Mr Hitchen.
But Mr Hitchen strongly denies the allegation and said he didn't even know the defendant at school.
He told the Observer: "I didn't know him at all at school but people say he was always a bit of a thug.
"I didn't go out for a couple of months after the attack happened, I was always looking over my shoulder.
"I have recovered now and I thought it had finally come to an end but this has brought it all back again.
"I couldn't believe it when I found out about the bullying story. He's just stirring it all up and I don't have a clue why he would say something like that."
In court it was claimed Street had been the victim of a bullying campaign which involved him being tied to a tree, slapped, punched and attacked with a stone.
He said there had also been an attempt to set him alight and he had been shot at with pellets and thrown off a roof.
The court heard the attack on Mr Hitchen happened after a chance meeting in the Golden Cross pub.
Street said that since his schooldays he had met many of his "tormentors" and had gone on to become friends with them. But when Mr Hitchen refused to apologise, Street attacked him.
According to witnesses, he was seen kicking or stamping on the man's head several times. Mr Hitchen suffered a black eye, cuts and bruises.
The court heard that Street was depressed at the time, having split up with his girlfriend, and he had also drunk too much.
He had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and expressed remorse over what had happened.
Judge Andrew Woolman told the defendant in passing sentence: "These courts have seen many cases where people subjected to kicking to the head end up with serious brain damage or worse.
"I have anxiously considered what is the appropriate sentence in this case. It is impossible for me to avoid an immediate custodial sentence. I accept you were to an extent traumatised by your experience."