A TEENAGED Tewkesbury couple who attacked a vulnerable 24-year-old man and repeatedly kicked him in the head as he lay on the ground have been jailed.

Samantha Thomas, 18, of Despenser Road, Tewkesbury and Tyler Doyle, 19, of Second Crossing Road, Walton Cardiff, carried out the wanton assault on Thomas Lane as his terrified pregnant girlfriend looked on, Gloucester crown court heard.

Shocked Chloe Jones, 20, could be heard screaming to the couple not to keep kicking her partner's head, said prosecutor Janine Wood.

Doyle and Thomas both admitted assaulting Mr Lane causing him actual bodily harm in Vineyards Park, Tewkesbury, at 8.20pm on March 22 this year.

The Recorder of Gloucester, Judge Jamie Tabor QC, sentenced Doyle to 16 months detention and Thomas to ten months He told the pair "You acted as thugs that night, both of you. You picked on a very, very vulnerable young man who happened to be with a vulnerable lady, in that she was pregnant.

"You attacked him and you continued to attack him and you stamped on his head when he was on the ground. You could have killed him. If you had done that you would have gone to prison for 15-20 years.

"As it is you have left him terrified about going out at night. It was an absolutely disgraceful performance by the pair of you and it was cowardly - there is never any excuse for kicking people on the ground."

Mrs Wood said the violence flared after the pair walked past Mr Thomas and his partner and Thomas's lit cigarette touched Mr Doyle's shoulder.

He turned to ask why she had done that and Doyle wallked up to him and swung a punch. Miss Jones stepped in between them to try to protect her partner.

As Mr Lane tried to push Miss Jones out of harm's way he slipped and fell - whereupon Doyle and Thomas both repeatedly kicked him in the head.

Mr Lane curled into a ball and put his hands up to try to protect his head and Miss Jones tried to pull the attackers away but could not. She estimated the kicking went on for 5-10 mins, Mrs Wood said.

One of the attackers then told Miss Jones "If you call the police we will kill you and your family."

Mr Lane, who has autism, ADHD and Tourette's, suffered two black eyes, abrasions to the head, a bruised thumb and a chipped tooth.

In a victim impact statement he said he now feels very insecure when he goes out and he keeps having dreams about the attack which are so vivid he twitches in his sleep.

He had also lost seven days at work because of his injury, he stated.

Joe Maloney, defending, said Doyle and his mother had both written to the court expressing their regret about what had happened. Sober, Doyle was a quiet and reasonable person - very different to the night of the offence, he said.

"His mother is here and she is a long suffering lady who is at her wits' end in relation to her son." he added.

For Thomas, Steve Young said she did not believe her cigarette had touched Mr Lane in the way he alleged. She accepted she had been drinking that night and felt that if she had been sober she would not have got involved in the assault.

"Her parents say she is a very, very immature 19 year old," he added.