TWO yobs who hit a man over the head with a metal bar as he walked home have avoided jail terms.

Ashley McConnon and Kieran Whitby, both 25, drunk vodka and beer then went out looking for trouble.

A text message sent to McConnon from Whitby before the attack showed the pair knew exactly what they were doing.

They selected a lone commuter walking from Basildon station, to his home in Whitmore Way, as their victim.

McConnon hit him twice on the head from behind with a metal tube on March 7, 2008, near the junction between Honeypot Lane and Broadmayne, Basildon.

The pair then followed him to his home where he called police from his mobile phone. Both men were arrested soon after.

In mitigation, the court heard McConnon had a history of mental illness which he is still on medication for, and has one previous conviction for carrying pepper spray.

The court also heard Whitby, who has no previous convictions, has worked as a groundsman at Festival Lesiure Park for the past 15 months.

Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assault, and one count of possession of an offensive weapon when they appeared at Basildon Crown Court.

They were sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and were ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Before sentencing, recorder Gerard Pounder said: “The victim was a 41-year-old man, just an ordinary man.

“You didn’t know him, he didn’t know you, there was no reason why he shouldn’t have been able to walk home.

“This behaviour is utterly unacceptable in a civilised society.”

Whitby, of Quendon Road, Basildon, was also given a six- month curfew. While McConnon, of Church Road, Basildon, received a two-year supervision order.