BOOZE-FUELLED men who threatened pub staff before one launched a shocking unprovoked attack on two punters have avoided jail.

Samuel Ward and Matthew Bullion were with a group of pals when they visited three pubs in Caversham.

The gang started out at the Prince of Wales where Ward hurled abuse at a landlady for telling the group to behave themselves. He then snapped a pool cue across his knee.

They then moved on to The Crown on the Bridge where Bullion threatened to destroy the pub unless an employee handed him £2,000 in cash before Ward threw a glass at a wall.

Finally, they entered The Moderation where Ward attacked two customers, punching them both in the head.

Maddy Charlesworth, prosecuting at Reading Magistrates' Court, said: "She (the first victim) told them their behaviour was unacceptable.

"They males became quite boisterous, they approached the bar and started to shout at her.

"She told them that if they didn't leave she would call the police. Ward replied 'go on then, call the police, bring it on'.

"(At the Crown on the Bridge) Bullion went behind the bar and Ward tried to go behind it but was unsuccessful.

"He (Bullion) shouted 'give me two grand or I will smash up your pub'."

Ward then picked up a glass and launched it at a wall before the group proceeded to Moderation Pub at around 11pm on December 10 last year.

Ms Charlesworth added: "They seemed to be quite rowdy.

"At this point Ward was described as punching two customers. It was unprovoked."

Following the attack, Ward walked behind the bar and stole two bottles of spirits, one of which he destroyed on his way out of the pub.

Chris Beauclerk, defending Bullion, said his client played a lesser role in the proceedings and had tried to stop Ward.

Rob Jacques, defending Ward, added: "There is a real opportunity for this man to discover what is making him so scared and anxious."

Bullion, 33, of Tymawr, Caversham, admitted one charge of making threats to cause fear of violence and a single charge of making threats to cause distress.

Ward, 26, of Mead Close, Caversham, admitted two counts of assault, two counts of criminal damage, two counts of making threats and one count of theft.

Sentencing on Wednesday, April 18, district judge Sophie Toms said: "I want him (Ward) off the streets, and what I have in the forefront of my mind is an immediate custodial sentence."

A sentence of 16 weeks in prison had been prepared for Ward, but it was suspended after the judge heard that he had been suffering from severe mental health issues.

The district judge said: "I have just been convinced that these custodial sentences should be suspended, but you must be punished for this appalling behaviour."

Ward was handed a fine of £400, which included a £100 compensation charge to each of the assault victims.

Bullion, who arrived at court with a packed bag, was slapped with a community service order.

Addressing the district judge, he questioned: "With regards to the community service?"

But she retorted: "If you have any issues with the community service, I have no problem imposing an immediate custodial sentence."