A nightclubber was punched to the ground and kicked 15 times in the head during an unprovoked attack, a court heard.

Two teenagers narrowly escaped a jail sentence for assaulting Simon Hawkings, from Worthing, on March 26, at 2am.

Mr Hawkings was leaving Area 51 nightclub in Newland Road, Worthing, when Alexander Bryant and Matthew Spence, both 18, approached and asked if he was "queer".

At a Worthing law courts hearing, Claire Ellis, prosecuting, said: "Spence said: 'You're queer, you made a pass at my mate'.

"Mr Hawkings told them they had made a mistake but could see they were out to start trouble."

Heading for a friend's house in Stanley Road, Mr Hawkings checked behind him and Spence punched him on the back of the head.

Ms Ellis said: "The blow knocked him to the ground.

"They started to kick him about the head. Mr Hawkings curled up into a ball and wrapped his hands around his head to protect himself.

"He was unable to completely protect his head.

"The next thing he recalls is he was still on the pavement with a police constable standing over him.

"He estimated he had been kicked 15 times to the head during the assault."

Ms Ellis said a police car had driven by and officers arrested Spence, of Bulkington Avenue, Worthing, and Bryant, of Cotswold Road, Worthing, at the scene.

Mr Hawkings suffered bruising and swelling around his head but did not need hospital treatment.

The teenagers could not explain why they had attacked him but pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm.

Martha Walsh, defending, said her clients had shown remorse.

She said: "Both defendants are at promising stages of their young lives and both have jeopardised their futures with this drunken incident."

She said Bryant hoped to start a football scholarship in the United States and Spence was enrolling for a bricklayer's course.

District Judge Paul Tain said he had seriously considered jailing both teenagers.

He said: "We should be able to expect members of the community to go to a nightclub, come out and go home without getting beaten up by complete strangers who, simply for their own pleasure and for no reason whatsoever, take offence to an innocent person on the street."

Bryant and Spence were given 200-hour community punishment orders, five-month curfew orders from 9pm to 5am, and had to each pay £200 compensation and £118 costs.