SAMUEL Evans, 21, was jailed for nearly three years this week for a late night assault which left a young engineer paralysed from the neck down.

Aerospace testing engineer Matthew Edmonds, 33, faces life in a wheelchair after being punched by Evans near the Stroud taxi rank during a night out.

He is now classed as a tetraplegic, with just some limited movement in his arms, Gloucester Crown Court heard on Thursday.

Despite his limited mobility, Mr Edmonds, who is being cared for at the spinal injuries unit at Salisbury Hospital, was in court to see Evans jailed for 34 months.

Evans was already subject to a suspended jail term for a previous assault when he punched Mr Edmonds, causing him to fall and hit his head on the ground, the court heard.

Evans, of no fixed address but formerly of Devereux Crescent, Stroud, admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Giles Nelson said Mr Edmonds had been making his way to the taxi rank with two friends at 3am on Sunday, March 25 when he encountered Evans.

Evans began 'dancing' around Mr Edmonds, asking if he wanted to 'bum' him, the court heard.

"He was moving around the group and putting his backside towards Mr Edmonds," said Mr Nelson.

Evans was clearly trying to provoke a reaction, he added, and one of Mr Edmonds' friends eventually reacted by slapping Evans on the head or neck. Evans then punched Mr Edmonds.

"He hit his head on the concrete and the injuries he sustained are absolutely devastating," said Mr Nelson.

The court heard that Evans had two convictions for battery and one for causing actual bodily harm, an offence which resulted in the suspended sentence.

Joe Maloney, for the defence, read out a letter from Evans in which he apologised for his actions, saying he had 'wrecked' Mr Edmonds' life and that he 'hated himself'.

"He is genuinely sorry for the pain and anguish he has caused Mr Edmonds," said Mr Maloney.

The judge admitted that many would regard the sentence as 'pathetic' but said the maximum term available was five years with a reduction for the guilty plea.

Speaking outside court, Mr Edmonds said: "It was quite hard being in court to hear it all and to see him but it was something I felt I had to do."