THREE Black Country thugs have been jailed for a vicious attack when a man was repeatedly hit with a shovel.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard Ryan Claridge, Benjamin Payne and Mark Flavell carried out a sustained assault on Robert Rolls who suffered a brain injury after being punched, kicked and stamped on before being repeatedly hit on the head with the shovel.

Payne, aged 20, of Chapel Street, Brierley Hill, and 44-year-old Flavell of Albert Street, Pensnett, along with Claridge, 21, of Barnett Lane, Kingswinford, all admitted attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm.

Judge Amjad Nawaz told the defendants it was only "good fortune" that the injuries suffered by Mr Rolls had not been severe as he stressed they had all "lost self control."

The judge sent Payne to a young offenders institution for 38 months because he did not admit his part in the attack until just before his trial was set to begin.

Flavell was sent to prison for three years while Claridge was put behind bars for two-and-a-half years with barristers for all three defendants maintaining to the court they were full of remorse and totally ashamed of their actions.

Lisa Hancox, prosecuting, accepted Mr Rolls had also been aggressive, he had torn plants from a town centre display and cracked the windscreen on Flavell's van with a punch in an earlier incident.

Miss Hancox said Claridge and Payne kicked out a number of times at the vulnerable Mr Rolls after there had been a slight scuffle between men on Hagley Road, Stourbridge, and Flavell then pulled up in his van and got out armed with the shovel.

The judge said: "Members of the public who see this sort of behaviour in the street would be perturbed if sentences of immediate custody did not follow.

"You could have gone your own way but you did not and violence followed. There was an element of goading before Mr Rolls was knocked to the ground before he was the target of a number of running kicks."

He added it was clear Claridge and Payne had been the worse for drink before they came across Mr Rolls who had punched one of the two men on the nose.

He told Flavell: "There was absolutely no need for you to have got out of your van but you did so and you elevated the incident because you used the shovel."