A FORMER amateur kickboxer who broke a taxi driver's jaw and tried to steal his BMW has been spared jail.
Bailie McClinton (21) crept up behind David Shaw as he was taking a smoke break and floored him with a punch that shattered his jaw.
Father-of-one McClinton then tried to drive away in his victim's BMW, only to flee the scene after realising the car was a keyless model.
Appearing at Laganside Courthouse on Thursday, the roofer was fined and given an 18-month probation order after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm and unlawfully attempting to take a motor vehicle.
The court heard Mr Shaw was standing outside McDonald's on Donegall Place in Belfast at around 3.30am on May 7, 2018, when he was attacked.
McClinton, nicknamed 'clubber' from his amateur kickboxing days, snuck up behind and punched him in the side of the head, fracturing his jaw in multiple places.
As the victim lay injured on the ground, his attacker jumped into the car and tried to drive off, before realising it was a keyless model and fleeing the scene with his friends.
McClinton's solicitor told the court his client "was 19 years of age at the time" (of the attack) and had never been before the courts previously.
"He has repeatedly expressed his concern for the victim and his remorse," he said.
"He wishes to apologise profusely for his behaviour. It has caused a great deal of anguish for his family and parents.
"His father has brought £1,000 to court as a starting point for any financial penalty imposed.
"We do not for a moment say the money compensates the victim, but it's a positive start. He has been scolded by both his mother and father and no longer goes out drinking.
"He acted completely and utterly out of character and is a little unfortunate as on another night it (the attack) might just have resulted in a sore jaw."
Handing McClinton a probation order, District Judge White said: "It was an outrageous act and assault on someone just doing their job.
"This clearly crosses the custody threshold, but the law makes it clear that custody is a last resort.
"When someone has no record, custody disrupts two families rather than one and the outcomes tend to be more negative for everyone involved."
McClinton was given an 18-month probation order, 100 hours of community service and a £2,000 fine.
Before he was arrested, police launched an appeal to find the culprit, sending out CCTV stills and making appeals for information published by local media outlets.
In a statement at the time, a police spokesman said: "A male taxi driver was seriously assaulted by an unknown male as he stood beside his taxi. The taxi driver required surgery for a broken jaw following the assault.
"This was a completely unprovoked and cowardly attack on a man who was simply out earning his living."
McClinton trained with former champion kickboxer Billy Murray at his ProKick gym on Wilgar Street in east Belfast and was once considered a talented prospect.
A post on the club website from 2011 shows McClinton with Mr Murray and features the caption, "ProKick's Youth Student of the year Bailie 'Clubber' McClinton".
The post adds: "Bailie has shown true dedication, effort and passion for the sport of kickboxing and is truly respected and admired in the gym by his fellow team-mates.
"Even (with) the senior fighters, he can give some of them a run for their money. Everyone at ProKick, including head coach Billy Murray, sees big things ahead for Bailie and we all look forward to see what 2012 brings for the talented young man."